Week Five Spring Training Report

With another spring training week gone, the final week is here as the Sox are now just seven days away from opening day. The Sox cut down their roster by nine players this week, from 42 to 33, and Josh Stewart continued to push his way and is the leading man for the fifth spot IF Danny Wright has anymore setbacks.

Spring Training Roster (33 Players Remaining)
Pitchers: Mark Buehrle, Bartolo Colon, Jon Garland, Matt Ginter, Gary Glover, Tom Gordon, Billy Koch, Esteban Loaiza, Damaso Marte, Mike Porzio, Dave Sanders, Josh Stewart, Rick White, Danny Wright and Kelly Wunsch.
Catchers: Sandy Alomar, Jamie Burke, Miguel Olivo and Josh Paul.
Infielders: Joe Crede, Brian Daubach, Tony Graffanino, D'Angelo Jimenez, Paul Konerko, Aaron Miles, Frank Thomas and Jose Valentin.
Outfielders: Joe Borchard, Willie Harris, Carlos Lee, Magglio Ordonez, Armando Rios and Aaron Rowand.

Rauch, Heredia Gone
Jon Rauch and Gil Heredia were demoted and optioned respectively to the minors this week. Rauch seemed a bit disgruntled at the demotion, while the 37-year-old Heredia is considering retirement. The Sox also optioned right-handed pitchers Jon Adkins (AAA) and Edwin Almonte (AAA), lefty pitcher Arnie Munoz (AAA), infielders Tim Hummel (AAA) and Jorge Nunez (minor league camp), and outfielders Anthony Sanders (minor league camp) and Mario Valenzuela (minor league camp).

Loaiza, Wright to Join Buehrle, Colon and Garland
Esteban Loaiza had two more impressive starts this week -- lowering his ERA to 2.61 and improving his record to 3-1 -- and Danny Wright has reported no pain in his four innings since returning. Josh Stewart is gaining confidence with manager Jerry Manuel, but Manuel said Stewart's inexperience past double-A is what is holding him back. The Sox are expected to start Wright on Sunday, April 6 against the Tigers but he will likely be on a low pitch-count (75 pitches or so).

Olivo vs. Paul: Battle of the Weak
The importance of Sandy Alomar is increasing by the day in camp as both Miguel Olivo and Josh Paul continue to struggle. Paul, in 15 games is batting an even .200 (5-for-25) with just one RBI, while Olivo has yet to record a RBI and also has just five hits (.172 BA). Alomar on the other hand, who has been given less and less time with the hope of Paul or Olivo stepping up, is batting .474 in 10 games. The deserving long-shot, Jamie Burke, is batting .400 in 15 games this spring and could sneak in if Paul/Olivo stay stagnant. One advantage Burke has is his versatility as he has seen some time at third and first.

Rowand Rolls Back Into Starting Role
As noted last week Aaron Rowand has received the majority of the playing time since returning, leaving Willie Harris and Joe Borchard on the outside with little chance of starting in center. Borchard will likely be demoted to Charlotte this week, while Harris is expected to make it to the final day, if not on the roster as a backup. Armando Rios and Brian Daubach are highly regarded by the Sox and look to locks as of this point.

Jimenez Holding On
Aaron Miles has had a fairly productive spring and has earned a shot at starting at second base. Problem is D'Angelo Jimenez hasn't done anything to make the position open. Jerry Manuel is still labeling Jimenez the opening day starting second baseman, with Miles a close second. If Miles fails to grab the job, he may not have a chance elsewhere with Tony Graffanino returning as the primary infielder off the bench.

Heart-of-the-Order Update
With a lot of attention going to the bullpen, rotation and bench, the middle of the lineup has been lethal this spring. Frank Thomas, Magglio Ordonez, Paul Konerko and Carlos Lee have batted a combined .410 (71-for-173) with 50 RBIs.

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