CHICAGO -- If the Chicago White Sox are going to make sacrifices in order to carry a roster with three first basemen, apparently it won't be the pitching staff that will be required to operate with one less body.
Because this season will likely start with Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Jose Abreu on the roster, the White Sox will need to be creative when it comes to deciding on the final 25 players for Opening Day.
It's possible the bullpen could still be the area that will have to operate a man down. Webb has just nine games of major league experience so he could end up being the odd man out. Or they could just elect to go without a long man.
But Webb showed last season he is ready for his chance and a solid spring should lock up his roster spot. The long man also seems to be a necessity because the rotation could include a young pitcher, most likely Erik Johnson, and perhaps Felipe Paulino, who has undergone Tommy John surgery and a shoulder procedure since he last pitched in the major leagues for the Kansas City Royals in 2012.
Long-man candidates include Charlie Leesman, Andre Rienzo, Eric Surkamp and Dylan Axelrod. The pitcher who makes the most sense in that group is Axelrod, which would allow Leesman, Rienzo and Surkamp to continue starting at Triple-A Charlotte and be ready to join the major league rotation if needed.
For teams electing to go away from a 12-man staff, the trend around baseball tends to be an increase to 13 pitchers rather than dialing it back to 11. General manager Rick Hahn said this offseason that an 11-man staff has been talked about for Opening Day, but it wasn't the favored scenario.
One possibility for roster wiggle room is a roster of just four outfielders. Assuming a starting outfield of Dayan Viciedo in left field, Adam Eaton in center and Avisail Garcia in right field, Alejandro De Aza could be the backup at all three spots.
Leury Garcia, who is expected to make the roster in a utility role and serve as the primary backup at shortstop, could also play some outfield if needed.