Pitching the focus of White Sox minicamp
Club to get a look at current staff, some prospects
CHICAGO -- Mention the word minicamp, especially in connection to a professional sports team in Chicago, and images of football players working out at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill., immediately come to mind.
This weekend, though, the White Sox are slightly altering that image.
Eleven White Sox pitchers and two or three catchers have made their way to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., in order to take part in this voluntary get together. Select Minor League hurlers were invited, but ultimately, it was their choice to attend.
White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, bullpen coach Juan Nieves, Minor League pitching coordinator Kirk Champion and Minor League pitching coach Curt Hasler will be conducting this combination weekend workout/skull session, which took root back in September during the mini-organization meetings in Chicago.
"[General manager] Kenny [Williams] brought it up in Chicago, and it's something him and Coop talked about at times over the years," said White Sox Minor League Director Buddy Bell, who also will be at the minicamp. "It just really hasn't gotten done.
"It's great for us in player development. Whenever we can get the Major League staff involved with Minor League guys, it's great. It helps the connection. The guys in the minicamp, we consider them prospects.
"We have quite a few other guys who could get to the big leagues as well," Bell said. "With the teaching part, it's only three or four days, so we can't have too many out there. It gives the Major League guys an opportunity to see them."
Relievers Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz, who both reside in Arizona, were set to stop by the White Sox Spring Training facility during the weekend, and Jake Peavy's presence also was a possibility. One of the more interesting twists from this weekend involves C.J. Retherford, the solid-hitting Minor League infielder who launched the game-winning home run in the 2009 Arizona Fall League title game.
Much like his work during instructional league action, Retherford will have a chance to catch at the minicamp.
"He did a good job at the instructional league, although I don't know about his transfer and throws," said Bell of Retherford's catching. "He's seen as more of a super-utility guy. He can play anywhere on the field, and catching makes him even more valuable."
Pitchers such as Daniel Hudson, Lucas Harrell, Sergio Santos and Freddy Dolsi, all of whom have their sights set on the seventh and final White Sox bullpen spot, are some of the individuals who will be taking part at Camelback. Not much throwing off the mound, if any, will take place since it's early in the throwing programs for most hurlers.
But the program will be a good early focus on the 2010 season, especially in a specific discipline that will be key to the White Sox success.
"I'm under no illusions, in that it always comes down to pitching," Cooper said. "If we want to get somewhere, we better be good [as a pitching staff]. If not, we are going home. This is normal stuff. Pitching is the backbone."
"We'll get three good days in and get some baseball life in the blood for January," said Champion of the minicamp. "It's a good way to take advantage of this new facility."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.