White Sox ponder roster using creative outfield

White Sox ponder roster using creative outfield

White Sox ponder roster using creative outfield
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The White Sox round of nine camp cuts early Tuesday crystalized most team departments while bringing into sharp focus the remaining battles for spots on the season-opening roster. Tuesday afternoon, the most overt of those competitions took center stage.

More correctly, center field: Brent Lillibridge started there in the Cactus League game against the Mariners, sandwiched by two other applicants in an experimental outfield. In left was Lastings Milledge, his rival for a job as an extra outfielder, and getting his first look in right was Mark Teahen, the veteran aiming to cement his value as a versatile reserve.

The game seemed to tilt in Milledge's favor, as has the entirety of Spring Training. While he went 1-for-4, with a pair of stolen bases, to leave his exhibition average at .319 in 47 at-bats, Lillibridge's 0-for-4 dropped him to .205 in 39 ups.

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Also perhaps working against Lillibridge, a natural infielder with limited outfield experience, is manager Ozzie Guillen's expressed disregard for player-status considerations as a factor in any decision.

Lillibridge, 27, is out of options, meaning the White Sox would risk losing him on waivers if he isn't part of the 25-man roster. Conversely, Milledge, 25, is in camp as a non-roster invitee.

"I want to pick the best ballclub we can have, and I'm going to pick the guy who gives us what we need, who can fill a role," Guillen said after the 9-5 loss to the Mariners.

"I'm not talking about taking the 'better' player because both are doing a tremendous job," Guillen said. "Either one is a good player. But do we need someone to play once a week? Or twice a month?

"We'll take the one we need the most, the one who we would use the most. But both can play very well."

Teahen's place on the team is assured, only the extent of his role needs to be determined, with Brent Morel the apparent pick to start at third base. Guillen described Teahen's Spring Training outfield debut as "very good." When the White Sox host the Dodgers on Wednesday, the club's Waldo will pop up at first base.

"I will find a way to get Teahen a lot of at-bats," Guillen said. "How is the question. We'll move him around. I may not be able to promise him 500, 600 at-bats, but he'll get a lot."

Teahen has not had a well-defined career. He has been a "poor man's" Michael Young, shuttled into various defensive openings to keep his valuable left-handed bat in the lineup.

During five seasons in Kansas City, he spent alternate seasons as the Royals' regular third baseman and right fielder, while also spotting at other positions. In fact, in the course of his 753-game Major League career, the 29-year-old has started at every position except for catcher and shortstop.

Teahen also figures to be part of the White Sox designated-hitter rotation, whenever either Paul Konerko or Adam Dunn is unavailable. He also went 1-for-4 in Tuesday's game and is hitting .333.

He did not have any challenging plays in the field, where in addition to retrieving a pair of singles he had to deal with only one fly ball, hit slightly over his head.

Tom Singer is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow @Tom_Singer on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.