Rollins the fave at short, but Saladino in picture

White Sox manager Ventura yet to reveal who will open season as starter

Rollins the fave at short, but Saladino in picture

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.

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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.

Rollins' solo shot

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."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.