It only took five games for the White Sox to realize they needed more than 11 pitchers. But why was Lastings Milledge designated for assignment instead of Brent Lillibridge?
The White Sox will call on Jeff Gray to enter the MLB bullpen—a unit that has worked 11.1 innings over the last two games in Kansas City, both of which went to extra innings. Gray had a 4/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 9.1 unimpressive spring training innings this year, although the 29-year-old holds a 2.70 K/BB in 40.1 major-league innings. He's about as mediocre an arm as a team can find, but at this point, the White Sox need a fresh pitcher—and Gray constitutes that.
What's interesting is that Milledge was DFA'd instead of Lillibridge. While Milledge's defense has already shown itself to be suspect, his bat off the bench is more valuable than Lillibridge's legs. But the real reason why Milledge was DFA'd may be because he'd be willing to stay with the White Sox:
“I’m definitely going to Charlotte [AAA] if I don’t make the club,” Milledge said. “We already talked about it. I don’t have a problem with that. Whether starting at AAA and going from there, I’ve been there and done that as well. I just want to be the best at what I do when I’m called upon and the team needs me to step up. Whatever the case may be, I want to be able to step in and be productive when I’m called upon.”
Milledge told that to Brett Ballantini of CSNChicago on March 13. A lot has changed since then—specifically, Milledge making the opening day roster—but given his reputation around the league, it may be smart for him to stay with a team that may be willing to give him a chance soon enough down the road.
Correction: As reader Corey Ettinger points out, Milledge has to clear waivers to stay in the White Sox's system. I somehow glossed over that, which is a pretty important detail. It's unlikely Milledge would clear waivers—despite his reputation for having a bad attitude around baseball, he still has a tremendous amount of talent—so unfortunately, this is probably the end of the Milledge era on the South Side.
Live chat today: Be sure to stop by today's home opener live chat. We'll kick things off at 12:30.