Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 3/30/12

There isn’t a ton of reason to be optimistic about either Chicago baseball team this MLB season. The Cubs figure to be bad, and the White Sox only marginally better. But there is an interesting comeback story possibly brewing on the White Sox pitching staff. For a guy to play for the lowly Windy City Thunderbolts, who play in suburban Crestwood, IL, the heart of White Sox fan demographics, to come back to the big club.

Interesting….

 

      While we can count nine players (all pitchers) who seem to have opening day major league jobs sewed up (not counting New York Mets lefty Tim Byrdak and Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew, who will be on the disabled list), the next week still will be nervous time for several onetime Independent players who seem to have a chance of making the treasured 25-man rosters.  These are the spring numbers they had put up heading into play Thursday:

      Starter-reliever Dylan Axelrod (Windy City, Frontier League) limited San Diego to three runs (eight hits) in 5.2 innings Wednesday to strengthen his hopes of opening with the Chicago White Sox.  He has worked 19.2 innings (29 hits) in six appearances (four starts) and is at 0-2, 5.95.

      Fourteen year pro Scott Rice (York, PA in 2011 plus fellow Atlantic League foes Long Island, NY and Newark, NJ, in earlier years) threw another scoreless inning in his bid to break into the major leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers, lowering his earned run average in 6.2 innings to 4.05.  He has fanned seven and walked only one, but is not on the 40-man roster as are some of his competitors.

      At least one writer has southpaw Raul Valdes (New Jersey Jackals and Nashua, NH, Can-Am League) back in Philadelphia’s bullpen picture after two scoreless innings against Minnesota Wednesday even though he was assigned to minor league camp earlier.  Valdes has a win, a save and a sparkling 1.69 ERA for 10.2 innings in which he has 11 strikeouts and only one walk (nine hits).

      Among position players, outfielder Justin Christian and infielder Mike Hollimon have gotten extensive time with San Francisco and Minnesota, respectively.  Christian (Southern Maryland, Atlantic League, and River City, Frontier League) has hit .243 (9-for-37 in 21 appearances and has stolen all three bases he has attempted.  Hollimon (Grand Prairie, TX, American Association) shares the Twins’ lead by appearing in 19 games, and has hit a sparkling .421 (9-for-21) with a .480 on-base percentage.  He has driven in five runs.  Catcher Jose Yepez (Pensacola, FL, American Association, and Gary, IN, when it was in the Northern League) has hit .308 (4-for-13) with Atlanta, which also has tested him at first base.

 

       This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball.  Fans may subscribe for 2012 at WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy his blogs, AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com and IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com.  The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.

 

 

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