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Konerko: Nieto equipped to make jump

Konerko: Nieto equipped to make jump

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Adrian Nieto chose not to talk about his roster situation until the final White Sox moves are announced this weekend.

The response from manager Robin Ventura concerning the Rule 5 selection's chances wasn't quite as definitive as the Monday tweets from Nieto's agent, announcing that Nieto had made the team. But Ventura all but annointed Nieto as the backup to starting catcher Tyler Flowers.

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"We've got a long way to go, but barring nothing strange, that would probably happen," said Ventura. "He's earned it. He's had a good spring, but we still have until Sunday, so stranger things have happened."

Ventura likes Nieto's receiving and game-calling abilities. He's not a finished product but certainly has impressed the White Sox with his development, even from the start of Spring Training.

Nieto will be making the jump from the Class A Carolina League to the Majors in one offseason. Paul Konerko was a Class A catcher in the Dodgers' system during both the '94 and '95 seasons and admits it would have been tough for him to make that jump.

"For me, there's a big difference. I stunk," said Konerko with a laugh of his catching days. "You have to take that into account. For me, it would have been really tough."

Count Konerko among those who believe Nieto will be able to handle the sizeable leap.

"Let's put it this way, whatever he was doing at A ball was a lot better than I was as far as a catcher, although I was a Cal League champion," said Konerko, who was 19 as a catcher vs. Nieto at 24. "When he plays in these games out here, he fits right in.

"So, I mean, that's what I see. It's definitely a big position. But he's got a lot of good energy, he can hit. Guys are much more advanced mentally now than I was or anybody was about knowing what it was like at the big leagues. It's much closer now for guys in A and Double-A and rightfully so, because guys are making it a lot quicker."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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