White Sox players balance rebuilding idea

Frazier, Shields among veterans looking to surprise in 2017

White Sox players balance rebuilding idea

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As the White Sox prepare for their first full-squad workout at Camelback Ranch, third baseman Todd Frazier chose to make a specific distinction concerning the team's direction on Friday.

"I don't really like that word, 'rebuild,'" Frazier said. "I always talk about refueling the team."

Some people don't like using the word "winter," but it doesn't make the outside conditions any less cold. That is not meant as a jab at a consummate pro such as Frazier or veteran pitcher James Shields, who somewhat altered the White Sox rebuilding idea when he met the media on Thursday. The team, as it stands on Feb. 17, does not have the look of 100 losses.

Not with players such as Frazier and Jose Abreu on the corners, an up-and-coming standout in Tim Anderson at shortstop and what should be an improved bullpen via the healthy returns of Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka. It's understandable that players in the White Sox clubhouse who certainly would not give up on a season before it began, regardless of the immediate outlook, believe there's more in there than pundits have projected.

"We might open some eyes this year, you never know," Frazier said. "We are just missing one hitter basically from last year. We still have a healthy core of guys that are going to come in here and hopefully pick up the slack, and I think we'll see how Spring Training goes.

"Everybody is healthy and ready to go. I think we are going to be just fine. It's a matter of putting everything together. Last year the hitters came through one day and the pitchers came through another day. It's getting everybody together and putting the whole package together."

One major flaw in Frazier's argument: The White Sox roster might not look the same by next week, let alone at the end of Spring Training or even the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Established veterans such as Frazier, closer David Robertson, left fielder Melky Cabrera, All-Star lefty Jose Quintana and setup man Nate Jones could all hold interest for contending teams.

The White Sox seem to have struck prospect gold in the Chris Sale and Adam Eaton deals, and they enhanced the rebuild through the 2016 Draft and international signings. But in the case of prospects, more always is better for finding a core of players truly able to drive a team.

A rebuild is certainly what's happening at White Sox camp. And even though these high-end prospects won't be rushed, that rebuild doesn't have to equate to automatic losses for the team on the field.

"There's no player on the face of this earth that comes to the ballpark saying, 'Today, it's OK if we lose.' None of them," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "No one accepts losing.

"What we will not accept is not learning from the situations and the circumstances that might surround us on a daily basis. We have to gain knowledge, and every time we gain knowledge, we win. In the long run, if we execute as a team and perform as a team, we give ourselves a daily chance of coming out on top."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. 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.