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updated: 3/10/2014 8:44 PM

Who will fill out White Sox' rotation?

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  • Right-hander Erik Johnson appears to have earned a spot in the White Sox rotation. "He does have a strong case," said Sox manager Robin Ventura.

      Right-hander Erik Johnson appears to have earned a spot in the White Sox rotation. "He does have a strong case," said Sox manager Robin Ventura.
    Associated Press

 
 

The White Sox made a trade Monday, one that is hardly worth noting.

For the record, journeyman right-handed starter Zach Stewart was sent to the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations.

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Stewart pitched in 28 games (9 starts) with the Sox in 2011-12 and was 3-7 with a 6.81 ERA.

Atlanta needs some pitching help with projected starters Kris Medlen and Mike Minor out with injuries, so Stewart lands in a better situation.

The move also indicates that the White Sox are happy with their depth, especially at the back end of the rotation.

Chris Sale is set as the ace, and Jose Quintana and John Danks are also locks in the Sox' starting five.

With the March 31 season opener against the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field rapidly approaching, here are the candidates fighting for the final two spots:

Erik Johnson

Barring an injury or complete meltdown over the next three weeks, Johnson has nailed down a job.

The 24-year-old pitcher has a 2.57 ERA in 2 Cactus League starts after going 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in 5 outings with the White Sox last September.

"With what he did last year and so far what you see, you like what you see," White Sox manager Robin Ventura told reporters after Johnson started against the A's on Sunday and allowed 1 run on 4 hits in 4 innings while striking out five. "He does have a strong case to be able to hold that spot down."

Not only should Johnson hold it down, he is likely to move up in the Sox' rotation this season. Johnson is a right-hander and Sale, Quintana and Danks are all left-handed.

Felipe Paulino

The White Sox signed Paulino to a one-year, $1.75 million contract in December and also hold a $4 million option for 2015.

Those figures say that the right-hander is a legitimate candidate to claim the No. 5 starter's job. But there are some other figures to weigh.

Paulino has not pitched in the major leagues since May 5 of 2012, when he delivered 6 scoreless innings against the Yankees. The 30-year-old pitcher proceeded to have Tommy John surgery and is slowly working his way back.

In 2 exhibition starts this spring, Paulino has allowed 7 runs on 12 hits in 4.2 innings (13.50 ERA). Given the lengthy layoff, Paulino seems better served opening the season at Class AAA Charlotte and pitching himself back to a major-league level.

"Everyone understands where they're at, but you still have to show you deserve a spot in the rotation," Ventura said.

Andre Rienzo

Like Johnson, Rienzo got a look with the Sox late last season, going 2-3 with a 4.82 ERA in 10 starts. The 25-year-old native of Brazil flashed an impressive curveball, but Rienzo was hurt by 28 walks in 56 innings.

He's been impressive this spring, pitching 5 innings and allowing 1 run on 2 hits to go with 7 strikeouts and 2 walks.

If the trend continues the rest of the spring, Rienzo looks like the White Sox' No. 5 starter.

Chris Beck

Tabbed as the Sox' No. 8 prospect by Baseball America after going 13-10 with a 3.07 ERA with Class A Winston-Salem and AA Birmingham last season, the 23-year-old right-hander is in major-league camp this spring and Beck's allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks in 3 Cactus League innings.

Beck needs more time in the minor leagues, likely at Charlotte, but he could join the White Sox at some point of the upcoming season.

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