PEORIA, Ariz. -- Robin Ventura has been asked twice this week to name his Opening Day shortstop: Tyler Saladino or Jimmy Rollins. On both occasions, the White Sox manager politely but forcefully declined.
"Hopefully that's a tough decision," said Ventura, who has acknowledged already making a selection.
Rollins and Saladino have had solid camps, offensively and defensively. With Rollins' veteran presence and switch-hitting capabilities, he appears to be the favorite to get the call behind Chris Sale on April 4 in Oakland.
But a Rollins start doesn't mean that Saladino is out of the picture. The 26-year-old will get plenty of opportunities at shortstop, while also being able to play third, second, first and even catcher in an emergency.
"Growing up playing baseball as much as I did in Southern California, I played every position," Saladino said. "I caught my whole life. That's something that if needed as the backup guy. … Wherever I'm needed -- whether it's starting or first base or somewhere else anywhere, pinch-run. Any of that stuff, whatever it takes."
"Especially with age and things like that, there will be definite periods when he's going to need a rest. He's better when he's fresher," said Ventura of the 37-year-old Rollins. "You can tell even out here, you get three in a row, the crispness that comes back with a day off. That's just Father Time. There comes a time when guys get to that point where it's better to get rest to become more effective when you're in there."
On Friday, Saladino committed an error to allow a first-inning unearned run against the Mariners, but made a phenomenal play behind third with a leap-throw to first baseman Jose Abreu to take a hit away from Norichika Aoki in the fifth. Defense won't be any issue for Saladino, and his offense has been steady in Arizona.
Saladino's versatility could profile more as a super-sub, at least at the season's outset.
"Obviously, it would be a great accomplishment to be in the starting lineup for Opening Day," Saladino said. "But overall, at the end of the day, the wins are what matter."