BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Conor Gillaspie had three hits and the Chicago White Sox used eight relievers to beat the Double-A Birmingham Barons 5-2 Friday night in their final exhibition game.
In an attempt to give his unsettled bullpen some work before Monday’s season opener against Minnesota, White Sox manager Robin Ventura used a different pitcher nearly every inning. The Barons scored one run off Zach Putman in the seventh and another off David Purcey in the ninth.
“We were still in the spring training frame of mind as far as the pitching goes,” Ventura said. “We just wanted to be able to get several guys in there. They needed some work, because we’re not going to be able to get on the field Saturday or Sunday, so we’re going to have two days where they don’t pitch against anybody.
“We just wanted them to get some final work in as we go to Monday.”
Avisail Garcia doubled in the second inning, moved to third on a throwing error – the first of five Birmingham errors – and scored on sacrifice fly by Alejandro De Aza to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.
An RBI single in the third by Gillaspie made it 2-0. The White Sox increased their lead to 4-0 in the sixth when Garcia drove in one run, and another scored on a fielding error.
Ventura said his young team is ready for Monday’s season-opener against the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field.
“We had guys fighting for some spots this year, and that’s what made spring fun,” Ventura said. “You have these young guys coming in with the energy and the competition factor, and you get a different vibe during spring this year.”
White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham (oblique) and third baseman Jeff Keppinger (shoulder) did not make the trip to Birmingham, and both players will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list.
Ventura expects Beckham to be back in the lineup sooner than Keppinger, who did not play during spring training following offseason surgery.
“Everybody else is pretty good,” Ventura said. “When you start looking around the league at the different injuries that have already come up, we’re happy with where we are.”
The White Sox sent right-handed pitcher Javy Guerra to Triple-A Charlotte on Friday, two days after claiming him off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Guerra went 4-5 with 29 saves and a 2.90 ERA with the Dodgers in parts of the past three seasons. His best season was as a rookie in 2011, when he posted a 2.31 ERA with a team-high 21 saves. He spent most of the 2013 season with Triple-A Albuquerque.
This was the first game in Birmingham for Ventura since 1989, when he played for the Barons during his rookie season of professional baseball.
“When we flew in today, I wasn’t used to seeing Birmingham that way. I was used to seeing it from the window of a bus,” Ventura said. “It’s fun to come back. This was a good place to play.”
Ventura took part in a pregame ring ceremony honoring the Barons’ Southern League championship. Three players from that team – Micah Johnson, Marcus Semien and Daniel Webb – are currently on the White Sox’s 40-man roster.