CHICAGO – Five things to know about the White Sox as they start spring training camp:
BOOST FROM ABREU: The White Sox struck out trying to sign star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka from Japan. They did, however, make a big splash when they landed Jose Abreu.
The White Sox signed the Cuban slugger to a 6-year, $68 million contract hoping he could add some pop to a lineup that saw a significant drop in production last season.
Abreu excelled at the World Baseball Classic a year ago and defected in the summer. Whether his success translates to the majors remains to be seen.
This much is clear: The White Sox had to do something. They couldn't afford a repeat of last season, when they batted .249 with 148 homers after knocking out 211 the previous year.
ARMS RACE: Even without Tanaka, the White Sox believe they have enough pitching.
They have an All-Star at the top of the rotation in Chris Sale, and with Jose Quintana, John Danks and Erik Johnson in the mix, Chicago believes it has the arms to jump back into contention and put aside last season's struggles.
One question is whether Danks can regain the form that made him a 15-game winner in 2010. His season started late a year ago following shoulder surgery and he never really got on track, finishing with a 4.75 ERA in 22 starts.
The bullpen has a new look after adding Mitchell Boggs, Ronald Belisario and Scott Downs while trading closer Addison Reed to Arizona in December.
GAINS WITH GARCIA: The White Sox will have a full season with outfielder Avisail Garcia after acquiring him from Detroit in the midseason trade that sent Jake Peavy to Boston.
That's another reason for their optimism. The 22-year-old batted .304 in 42 games with Chicago.
CATCH IT IF THEY CAN: It wasn't just the hitting that went downhill for the White Sox last season.
They were a mess on defense, too. Chicago went from first to 29th in the majors in fielding percentage last season and committed more errors than all but one team – Houston.
A VICTORY LAP: That's essentially what this is for Paul Konerko.
The veteran slugger and team captain opted to re-sign for one more season rather than end his career on a sour note.
While the team piled up the losses a year ago, Konerko struggled with a back issue and finished with a .244 average and 12 homers.
The White Sox aren't asking him to put up big numbers. Instead, they see him as more of a player-coach and mentor for youngsters such as Abreu.