White Sox set Opening Day roster

White Sox set Opening Day roster

MESA, Ariz. -- Boone Logan came along for the ride to HoHoKam Park on Monday, with pitching coach Don Cooper simply wanting the young left-hander to experience the excitement surrounding a Cubs-White Sox contest.

And although Logan did not throw a pitch in what played out as a 4-4 tie, it turned out to be the most memorable trip and moment of his professional career.

Following Monday's contest, assistant general manager Rick Hahn and manager Ozzie Guillen informed Logan that he had made the White Sox 25-man roster. It's one of the most improbable Spring Training stories in recent memory, with Logan as barely a blip on the White Sox radar when he entered an intrasquad game on March 5 at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson.

Logan struck out both Jim Thome and Rob Mackowiak during 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief and joined the Major League camp later in the week. Almost three weeks to the date, the 21-year-old who has made 55 of his career 59 appearances for Great Falls in the Advanced Rookie Pioneer League, officially joined the White Sox.

"Good for him, and congratulations to him," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski of Logan's amazing spring effort. "It's a great story. It's a story that people can get inspired from, and I'm happy for the kid.

"How many times do you hear a story about a guy, who was not even in big-league camp, and he pitches a couple of times, gets moved over and makes the big-league team on Opening Day? He's done all we've asked of him."

Before a single pitch even was thrown on Monday, both Guillen and Cooper were talking about the decision concerning the final roster spot. The unofficial number was down to 27, after right-handed reliever Tim Redding was reassigned on Monday morning. But with Dustin Hermanson a certainty to be placed on the 15-day disabled list, it was a battle between Javier Lopez and Logan.

It was experience versus youth. It was a competition between two left-handers who have found success by dropping down on their delivery. It was a very tough decision to be made between two pitchers who basically had done their job all spring.

The tiebreaker could have been Logan's homegrown status. The White Sox took a chance on a young prospect, selected in the 20th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, much like the move made by the organization two years ago with another inexperienced left-hander named Neal Cotts.

"I liken it to that situation a lot, and I've brought it up more than a few times," said Cooper of the Cotts-Logan comparison. "It seems to have worked, as Cotts is now an established lefty.

"We look at the team first, as in who is going to give us the best chance to win. But with all things being equal, I like bringing up our own guys."

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By looking at Logan's statistics leading into the 2005 season, he would have been a very unlikely candidate to be even in consideration for this sort of promotion. Logan had a combined ERA over 6.00, walking 62 and allowing 150 hits over 131 1/3 innings.

But a last-ditch change suggested by Curt Hasler, the Great Falls pitching coach, and Kirk Champion, the White Sox Minor League pitching coordinator, not only helped Logan improve, but basically resurrected his career. Throwing with a three-quarters delivery, instead of from over the top, Logan dropped his ERA to 3.31 and reduced his walk total to a mere four over 35 1/3 innings at Great Falls.

Logan not only has moved from the Minor Leagues to big-league camp, but he also has moved from pitching against younger players at the end of Cactus League games to facing veterans in the middle. Going against San Francisco's Steve Finley and Randy Winn or Oakland's Eric Chavez and Mark Ellis has not provided even the smallest of missteps for the Cactus League phenom, who has a 0.87 ERA in seven games.

"That's why this kid opened a lot of people's eyes," Guillen said. "In the beginning, he was facing kids. Now, let's put him back facing the starting lineup and nothing changed. He kept doing the same."

"The Giants, that was a tough lineup," Logan added. "But I was doing the same thing I've been doing. I didn't change anything. Just throw strikes, hit my spots and stay focused."

In breaking the news to Lopez, Guillen told the veteran that he appreciated his effort and the professional way he conducted himself. He quickly added that Lopez would be the first one called if there was a need at the Major League level.

"I have to do what I've been doing during Spring Training in the regular season. You still have to throw strikes and make the pitches a little bit better up here."
-- Boone Logan

During the ensuing conversation with Logan, Guillen pointed out that making the team out of Spring Training doesn't mean he's guaranteed to stick all season. It's easy to make the team, according to Guillen, but tough to stay on it.

What can Logan expect as the newest member of the White Sox? According to Pierzynski, participating in the rookie ritual of wearing unpleasant clothing on the road definitely is on the horizon. Otherwise, the first White Sox pitcher to make the jump from Class A to the Majors since Carlos Castillo in 1997 doesn't plan on changing a thing.

"Now, the pressure is on," Logan said. "I have to do what I've been doing during Spring Training in the regular season. You still have to throw strikes and make the pitches a little bit better up here."

"Hopefully, he doesn't get intimidated, which he hasn't," Pierzynski added. "You just try to make him feel comfortable and give him confidence."

It took about three or four minutes before Logan could move from in front of his locker after receiving the good news. He hadn't even begun to think about the Opening Day experience this Sunday or how he was going to tell his family what had happened.

A simple two-hour bus ride had become a life-changing moment for the Texas native.

"I'll wait a while before I tell [his family]," said Logan with a smile. "I wasn't surprised but I didn't really expect it. I knew I had a pretty good shot at it and I just happened to come through and make the team."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.