GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With the White Sox setting their 25-man roster prior to Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Rockies at Camelback Ranch, the rightful focus was on players such as Nate Jones and Eduardo Escobar who made their first Opening Day roster.
But general manager Ken Williams and manager Robin Ventura also were looking at the solid options they now have available at the Minor League levels, giving the White Sox a little depth and insulation in case of injury or ineffectiveness. Dylan Axelrod, Eric Stults and Brian Bruney, three of Saturday's final cuts, are on that reserve list at Triple-A Charlotte.
"A lot of times in April things happen where you need a guy like [Bruney]," said Ventura, who credited Bruney for coming into camp in great shape, working hard and pitching very well, despite losing out in the final call to Jones. "The comfort for us is we have guys like him and Stults and Axelrod we can trust and call up in that position."
Williams pointed to Minor League position players on the rise such as Jared Mitchell, Andy Wilkins and Trayce Thompson. He also added a few more to the pitching options.
"Castro was one of the best prospects in baseball just a year and a half ago, and got a delivery issue out of whack. I think [pitching coach Don Cooper] and now [Minor League pitching coordinator] Curt Hasler, who has taken over for him, have simplified it with just a little bit of a step back in his delivery. Staying tall and balanced over the rubber. He's getting out front again as he used to. The ball is coming out of his hands really nicely. On the pitching front, we feel good."
Morel not concerned with back tightness
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Brent Morel's exit from Friday night's Cactus League contest in Surprise marked his second early departure because of back tightness during Spring Training. But the White Sox third baseman said Saturday that it's not a malady causing any level of concern.
"Nah, it was a little tight yesterday," Morel said. "It was a precautionary thing. Nothing serious, but just one of those things to stay on top of."
Morel was back in Saturday's White Sox lineup, taking the place of Eduardo Escobar and moving Brent Lillibridge from third base to shortstop. He finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout, dropping his Spring Training average to .309.
While the back issue has acted up a bit more during this present spring, Morel said an MRI was taken and everything was fine.
"If it was the regular season, I would have stayed in," said Morel of exiting Friday in the sixth inning. "They were just trying to take it easy."
Outfielder Jackson signs Minor League deal
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Conor Jackson signed a Minor League deal with the White Sox on Saturday and was assigned to Triple-A Charlotte. The right-handed-hitting outfielder was in camp with the Rangers during Spring Training before being released.
Jackson, 29, is a .271 career hitter with 52 home runs over stops with the D-backs, Red Sox and A's in seven seasons. But as general manager Ken Williams pointed out, Jackson never really fully recovered from Valley Fever that hit him in 2009.
"He was on a career trajectory where his ceiling was through the roof," said Williams of Jackson, who had three productive seasons in Arizona from 2006-08. "He got Valley Fever, which was a terrible thing to catch. He will be working his way back in Triple-A."
Third to first
White Sox manager Robin Ventura hinted on Saturday that the closer's decision won't be announced until the team's exhibition games in Houston on Tuesday or Wednesday.
"There is plenty of time going to Houston," Ventura said.
Gordon Beckham, Brent Morel, Eduardo Escobar, Nate Jones and Hector Santiago all played on the same 2008 Class A Kannapolis Minor League squad. Beckham, the elder statesmen of the group, is happy to see the quintet break camp together with the White Sox.
"Nate kind of came out of nowhere this spring, but he's very, very talented," Beckham said. "We were all on that Kannapolis team, and that was a lot of fun. I'm glad they made it. They worked hard and deserve it."
Alejandro De Aza was picked off in the first inning of Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Rockies, giving him five caught stealings this spring. Adam Dunn matched that number with his fifth homer, coming in the ninth against left-handed reliever Matt Reynolds.