Uribe to get most playing time at second
Former shortstop garners club's praise after solid spring
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Juan Uribe has gone from the White Sox starting shortstop over the past three seasons to a possible waiver victim this spring to the team's No. 1 second baseman at the outset of the 2008 season.
Manager Ozzie Guillen wouldn't exactly name Uribe as shortstop Orlando Cabrera's double-play partner, still sticking with Pablo Ozuna in the season opener against C.C. Sabathia. But Uribe will get the first shot to make the position his own, holding an edge over Alexei Ramirez and Ozuna.
"Uribe earned it, with the way he played in Spring Training and the way he went about his business," said Guillen, following the White Sox 5-2 victory over Colorado on Tuesday. "We're going to give him the most playing time at second base until he can't do it any more."
Guillen pointed out how Uribe has people behind him who can play the position if he doesn't succeed with his first move to second since playing 77 games there in 2004. If Uribe goes into a prolonged hitting funk, Ramirez or Ozuna could grab the reins.
But the gregarious Uribe can carry a team when he gets his stroke right. Uribe ranks third among American League shortstops with 57 home runs over the past three years and sits at sixth with 210 RBIs.
Ozuna, meanwhile, will be playing the same super-sub role he filled during the team's 2005 World Series title run -- without the outfield duties.
"Ozzie likes to put him in here and there just to give the club some energy," said White Sox general manager Ken Williams of Ozuna. "We missed that last year. Every time he gets out there, he does something good for us."
Just because Ramirez won't be at second on Opening Day doesn't mean he won't be in the starting lineup. Guillen could choose to put Ramirez in center, giving him the inaugural Major League challenge of facing C.C. Sabathia.
Ramirez has been impressive enough this spring to not only make the roster but earn significant playing time.
"I guess the ability to play every position, and play it with the skill that he can play it," said Williams, when asked what impressed him most about Ramirez.
"He'll probably catch if we wanted him to, if the wind wasn't too strong and blows him over in his crouch," added Williams.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.