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Professional

MLB: Ventura remaining flexible on key decisions

White Sox manager Robin Ventura (right) watches Chris Sale throw a practice pitch after being hit by a line drive last August in Kansas City. Sale not starting until late in spring training to preserve his arm is one of several moves Ventura is mulling.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura (right) watches Chris Sale throw a practice pitch after being hit by a line drive last August in Kansas City. Sale not starting until late in spring training to preserve his arm is one of several moves Ventura is mulling.

Robin Ventura admitted he wasn’t too flexible Wednesday during a yoga class with his wife, Stephanie, at Gilda’s Club Chicago to show support for cancer patients.

But the White Sox manager seemed adaptable to a variety of possibilities with the start of a lengthy spring training less than 3 weeks away.

No corner on market: It’s not etched in stone that Jeff Keppinger will stay at third base, leaving open the possibility the Sox still could acquire a left-handed-hitting infielder.

“Over the course of spring, it could change as far as doing something else,” Ventura said. “I would say, as of right now, I would see him there [at third].”

Leftist tactics: Chris Sale might not make his spring debut until the exhibition season is well under way in an effort to preserve his left arm. The same tactic could be used with fellow left-handers Jose Quintana and John Danks, who is recovering from shoulder surgery in August.

Tres for Rios? When he’s not playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, Alex Rios might bat in the third spot, with Ventura possibly inclined to separate leadoff hitter Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn – the only two left-handed hitters in the lineup – as much as possible.

With a full season of managerial experience and more familiarity with his personnel, Ventura will have more time to experiment and evaluate because spring training is one week longer thanks to the WBC.

The front office continues to evaluate possibilities to balance a right-handed-dominant lineup. Adding a left-handed-hitting outfielder such as the Diamondbacks’ Jason Kubel likely would result in the departure of or decreased playing time for Dayan Viciedo or Rios, and Kubel’s batting average has declined dramatically in the second half of his last two seasons.

The Rays’ need to add offense virtually rules out any chance of prying away outfielder Matt Joyce. Acquiring a left-handed-hitting infielder could affect second baseman Gordon Beckham (Keppinger has played 307 of his 677 games at second) or shortstop Alexei Ramirez.

As for Sale, postponing his spring debut until March 7 should give him ample time to be ready for the season opener April 1 against the Royals.

With Rios, reliever Jesse Crain (Canada) and rookie pitcher Andre Rienzo (Brazil) fully committed to the WBC, Ventura will get a chance to look at younger players who could help the Sox in 2013.

“I don’t want anyone coming in thinking there’s no chance of making it,” Ventura said.

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