Fittest loser
Article updated: 9/23/2013 11:54 PM

Pitching aside, much work ahead for White Sox

Paul Konerko hits a single in Monday night’s White Sox victory over Toronto at U.S. Cellular Field.

Paul Konerko hits a single in Monday night's White Sox victory over Toronto at U.S. Cellular Field.

 

Associated Press

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At last we're in the final week of the White Sox' worst season since 1970.

There's not much more to say about this year other than Sox fans should try to come out for the final homestand (Thursday-Sunday vs. the Royals) and say so long to Paul Konerko.

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Scouting report

White Sox vs. Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field
TV: WCIU Tuesday; Comcast SportsNet Wednesday
Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Pitching matchups: The Sox' Hector Santiago (4-9) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (12-9) Tuesday; Dylan Axelrod (4-10) vs. Danny Salazar (1-3) Wednesday. Both games 6:05 p.m.
At a glance: Look for Terry Francona to get plenty of American League Manager of the Year votes for guiding the Indians to an 86-70 record and a legitimate playoff shot. Cleveland has won four straight and nine of 11 while passing Texas for the second wild-card berth. The Indians have won 12 in a row over the White Sox and are 15-2 in the season series. This is the Sox' final road trip of the year. They have the worst road record (26-53) in the AL. Axelrod fills in for John Danks on Wednesday. Danks (4-14, 4.75 ERA) didn't make it back to the rotation until late May due to shoulder surgery, and the left-hander has been shut down the rest of the season.
Next: Kansas City Royals, Thursday-Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field
-- Scot Gregor

A free agent at the end of the season, the 37-year-old Konerko might retire or he might decide to sign on with another team. Given the White Sox' direction toward youth, it appears unlikely Konerko returns for a 16th season on the South Side.

But who really knows what the Sox' roster is going to look like in 2014.

The pitching staff appears to be all but set, especially with a starting rotation that returns Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Erik Johnson, John Danks and Hector Santiago or Andre Rienzo.

As for position players, newcomer Avisail Garcia is the only lock to be in the starting lineup when the White Sox open next season with a March 31 home game against Minnesota.

After that, any guess is a good one, although don't look for White Sox general manager Rick Hahn to offer up big money for potential free agents such as Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann or Shin-Soo Choo.

Do expect the Sox to make a run at Jose Abreu, a power-hitting Cuban defector who batted .360 (9-for-25) with 3 home runs and 9 RBI in six games last spring during the World Baseball Classic.

Abreu is expected to play first base when he does arrive in the major leagues, and the White Sox can use help all over the infield, outfielder and behind the plate.

If Hahn decides to reinvest the $37 million he saved trading starting pitcher Jake Peavy in July and right fielder Alex Rios in August, maybe the Sox outbid other interested suitors and land Abreu.

Again, who can be sure at this juncture?

"You don't know what it's going to be," manager Robin Ventura said when asked about next season's roster. "We can make all the plans in the world for what you'd like to see or what's going to happen. Until it happens, this is what it is right now.

"So who you have under contract, who you have coming back, as far as younger guys we even have in the minor leagues, you don't know exactly how it's going to shake out. As of right now we're pretty young."

Since he still is owed $15 million next year, Adam Dunn is likely to be back by default.

By a wide margin, Dunn leads the White Sox in home runs (32) and RBI (83), but a 12-for-100 slide has dropped his batting average to .218. Dunn also is tied for second in the American League with 182 strikeouts.

Assuming he does return, Dunn figures to be the only proven power hitter in the Sox' lineup. But maybe Hahn brings in some other veteran hitters and the White Sox turn it around next year.

"I think we can get to that level," Dunn said. "Everything starts with pitching, and I think that's what we have. We have a lot of good young arms that got a lot of experience this year."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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