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White Sox keeping pitching options open

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  • If he has anything left, former Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson might be an option for the White Sox' rotation. The Sox signed Hanson to a minor-league contract last week.

    If he has anything left, former Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson might be an option for the White Sox' rotation. The Sox signed Hanson to a minor-league contract last week.
    Associated Press/September 2012


White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is patient, to a point. So is manager Robin Ventura.

In other major-league organizations, catcher Tyler Flowers probably would have been released over the winter. Dayan Viciedo or Alejandro De Aza would have been traded.

The Sox have stuck with Flowers, and Viciedo and De Aza are getting more time to show they can be consistent contributors.

Through the first two weeks of the season, Flowers is thriving with a .382/.417/.500 hitting line to go with 1 home run and 5 RBI over 10 games. In the doghouse early, Viciedo has a .310/.382/.414 slash line with 4 RBI in 10 games, and the White Sox are hoping new hitting coach Todd Steverson's positive influence on the 25-year-old outfielder will help ease the sting of Avisail Garcia's season-ending shoulder injury.

De Aza has cooled considerably (.179/.200/.410) since opening the season with 3 home runs in three games, but he's still getting an opportunity to play.

De Aza aside, the Sox were leading the major leagues in runs scored (80) and on-base percentage (.356), and leading the American League in total bases (211), slugging percentage (.461) and OPS (.816) through Sunday's games.

Pitching has been the early problem. The White Sox have the highest ERA (5.48) in the AL, and there already is big concern about starters Felipe Paulino and Erik Johnson along with a leaky bullpen that has a 6.93 ERA.

If the staff doesn't get it turned around by, say, the end of April, Hahn and Ventura's collective patience is likely to be exhausted.

The Sox would rather not invest the big money needed to go out and add proven pitching, but Hahn has been collecting some lower-graded talent with the hopes of finding a keeper or two.

Here are pitchers to keep an eye on:

Tommy Hanson

The right-hander finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2009 after going 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA for the Atlanta Braves.

He has had some shoulder issues the past few seasons and has tailed off, but the Sox took a flier on Hanson last week and signed him to a minor-league contract. He still is at extended spring training and is scheduled to eventually start for Class AAA Charlotte.

If he has anything left, Hanson (4-3 with a 5.42 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels last season) might emerge as a better rotation option than Paulino, who is 0-1 with a 7.98 ERA in 3 starts.

Scott Carroll

The right-hander undoubtedly has attracted some early interest from the White Sox after winning his first 3 starts with Charlotte while allowing no earned runs over 19 innings.

Selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the third round of the 2007 draft out of Missouri State, where he also played quarterback, Carroll was signed by the Sox on July 12, 2012. He had Tommy John surgery at the end of that season.

He obviously is healthy now after making 11 starts with Advanced Rookie Bristol and AA Birmingham (combined 0-2, 3.29 ERA).

Javy Guerra

Like Hanson and Carroll, he's not even on the Sox' 40-man roster at the moment.

But if Guerra, who was claimed off waivers from the Dodgers in late March, continues to pitch well out of the bullpen for Charlotte, he will soon force his way on to the White Sox' 25-man roster.

Through Sunday's play, Guerra has allowed 2 hits over 5⅔ scoreless innings. The 28-year-old right-hander was 4-5 with a 2.88 ERA in 101 relief appearances with Los Angeles from 2011-13.

Frank Francisco

If the name sounds familiar, it should.

Francisco joined the White Sox' system in 2002 in a trade from Boston. He was traded to Texas the following season.

Now 34, Francisco agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox on Monday and was assigned to Charlotte.

Slowed by elbow issues last year, Francisco saved 25 games for Texas in 2009. He had 23 saves with the New York Mets in 2012.

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