Monday, February 27, 2006

Ben Grieve Spring Training Watch, Part II

Since games don't start until later this week, there's not a whole lot of news to report on Ben Grieve's quest to spend 2006 in the major leagues. The only real news is that he was among the last to show up to camp, on the day of first full workout, which can't look good.

I hate to say it, but his chances are a bit bleaker than I originally thought. I had mentioned he was competing with Russ Gload and Joe Borchard for a roster spot; turns out prospect Jerry Owens is in the mix as well. Owens spent most of 2005 in AA Birmingham, where he batted .331, with a .393 OBP and .406 SLG. Not bad. He's also known for his speed, having stolen 42 bases last season (4 on the major league level), though in typical White Sox fashion, was also caught stealing 20 times, for a 68% success rate. Owens recently pissed of the Sox brass by bailing on Venezuelan winter ball early, but Ozzie Guillen claims he won't hold it against him.

But really it seems to be basically a two-man race, between Gload and Borchard; check out this article, and especially the link to a video of Ozzie's comments. Gload is probably the better choice; but if Borchard isn't picked, he goes on waivers (and the White Sox get nothing of their $5.3M signing bonus, and Borchard may attempt the switch back to football). Now, there is the chance that the Ozzie will go with just 11 pitchers, given that a number of his starters are such workhorses (Mark Buehrle actually prefers the 11 man rotation), meaning Borchard, Gload, Owens, and Grieve would be fighting for two roster spots. But given Chicago's love of smallball, you have to assume a speedy guy like Owens would be at a huge advantage.

It's going to be an uphill battle for Grieve.

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