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posted: 3/19/2014 5:30 AM

New White Sox lineup taking shape

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  • Alexei Ramirez has been playing shortstop for the White Sox since 2009, but will he even still be with the team by the end of this season?

    Alexei Ramirez has been playing shortstop for the White Sox since 2009, but will he even still be with the team by the end of this season?
    Associated Press


Seems like a long time ago that Alexei Ramirez was the opening-day center fielder for the White Sox.

It was his first major-league game -- in Cleveland in 2008 -- and a month later he became the everyday second baseman, the following year the shortstop.

That same season of 2009, Gordon Beckham -- himself a shortstop -- arrived to play third base in early June, moving to second base the following April.

Together they have been, side by side the last five years, and always throwing to Paul Konerko at first.

By the end of this season, it's fair to wonder if any of them will be playing baseball in Chicago.

Konerko, 38, is retiring, and Jose Abreu is the full-time first baseman.

Ramirez, 32, has two years left on a deal worth $10 million each season, and a friendly club option for another $10 million in 2016.

Beckham, 27, is making $4.17 million this season and will be a 5-plus player when it's over, leaving him a year from free agency.

They're both inexpensive by today's standards and under control for at least two more years. That also makes them prime candidates to be traded.

It is especially so because the Sox are loaded in the middle infield and several teams are desperate for help at second and short.

You have to believe Sox GM Rick Hahn is answering calls and texts these days.

"It's the time of year where there's a lot of feeling out going on and we're slowly moving into the time when something's going to happen and teams are gonna start pulling the trigger," Hahn told us on "Hit and Run" Sunday morning. "I'm working under the assumption that our 25 is gonna come from the pool we have right now, but you never say never because conversations are ongoing."

The timing of Beckham's oblique injury hurts because there are teams like Detroit, Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa and the Mets searching for help in the middle infield as we speak.

At the same time, the Sox have no shortage of players to replace Beckham if he winds up on the disabled list, including the recently demoted Carlos Sanchez, who has worked his way back into the conversation.

"I think it would come down to Marcus Semien or Leury Garcia," said Hahn, who believes Beckham has a chance to play Opening Day. "Carlos Sanchez had a real nice spring and an outstanding Venezuelan season. At age 21, he's going back to Triple-A for at least a part of the season and finish up a few elements of his development.

"Between him and Micah Johnson (23) -- the Southern League playoff MVP on a championship team -- we have some options. It's nice to have depth, and particularly depth in the middle, traditionally the hardest skill positions to fill."

The Sox are headed in the right direction after the acquisitions of Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson, but they're very right-handed and will be even more so after Adam Dunn departs.

So there is work to do as Hahn continues the rebuild.

"There are some areas where we have options, others where we're a little thinner than we want to be and an injury could cause problems," Hahn said. "I like where we are from a bullpen standpoint, in terms of depth. You can never have too much starting pitching, though I do see us with more than five options, which is a good position to be in.

"On the corners of the infield we have options. Behind the plate and perhaps in the outfield, we could use some more depth to protect ourselves."

At the hot corner, the Sox will have their fifth different opening-day starter in the last six years. Conor Gillaspie will almost certainly get the nod, but Davidson figures to be back for good within a couple months.

"He's not far away," Hahn said. "There's a couple of specific things, a little bit on defense and a little bit at the plate, and he's already making the adjustments we asked him to make. Before he gets to Chicago, we want to make sure he's capable of doing that every day.

"We're not hung up on when he gets here. It could be weeks or months, but once he gets here, we think he's going to help us for a long time. He's going to be an important guy for us."

There's a new infield coming to a South Side ballpark near you -- and it might be sooner than you think.

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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