Uribe's status with White Sox uncertain
Report that infielder was placed on waivers is unconfirmed
TUSCON, Ariz. -- At the start of his postgame Spring Training chat with the media on Wednesday evening, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was asked two direct questions.
"What's going on with Juan Uribe?" asked one reporter. Another scribe followed up: "Who will be your starting second baseman if the regular season began on Thursday?" Guillen wasn't able to provide a definitive response for either inquiry.
"The season doesn't start tomorrow," said Guillen with a smile. "That's a good thing for me."
Guillen was being quizzed about Uribe after the veteran infielder, who once appeared to be the leading candidate to start at second base, was reportedly placed on waivers by the team, according to a report first coming from The Score, 670 AM, the White Sox flagship station, on Wednesday morning.
This news simply could be a way for the White Sox to test the market as to Uribe's value, with the possibility of shedding his $4.5 million salary. Even if Uribe was put on waivers, it doesn't necessarily mean the White Sox couldn't pull him back.
According to Guillen, Uribe was part of the conversation during Wednesday's morning's hour-long staff meeting to discuss the final position moves. According to Uribe, who spoke to a pool reporter as he was exiting Tucson Electric Park on Wednesday, he planned to be in Phoenix for Thursday's game against the Dodgers and start at second base as scheduled.
"Yeah, I don't know," Uribe said. "My agent [Martin Arburua] called me and said reporters called him, but my agent told me he called Kenny and ... I don't know. No one has told me nothing. I got a surprise.
"My agent called me and said, 'Juan, what happened?' I say, 'What do you mean?' People here told me, 'Hey, the media [wants to talk to you].' I say, 'For what?'"
In accordance with Major League rules, the White Sox cannot comment on the report if it's true. Arburua has not been informed either.
"I haven't heard anything like that," Arburua told a pool reporter. "Everything I've been told by the club was positive about Juan. I heard he was hitting well, playing great defense. That would be a shock."
Neither the player nor the agent have to be notified of the waiver process, so the plan could be in motion without Uribe knowing what's taking place. Severing ties with Uribe -- if that's what this move ultimately brings -- could indicate a possible trade is in the works to fill the void at second.
Baltimore's Brian Roberts is known to be on the market, heavily pursued by the Cubs. But the Orioles also want top-notch young pitching in return, a commodity the White Sox aren't stocked with currently.
It also could mean a commitment to Alexei Ramirez, the Cuban defector who has impressed the White Sox brass with his athleticism and his offensive ability throughout Spring Training. As for his defense at second on a full-time basis, that particular area remains a work in progress.
"He can play every day, I think," said Guillen of Ramirez. "At second, we got to work on it to get him better.
"Right now, in Spring Training, he doesn't show he's a better shortstop and center fielder than second baseman because we don't see him that much making the plays. He will make the plays, but the double plays we don't get an opportunity to see him in the games we play him."
Danny Richar continues to slip further off the second-base radar after being scratched from the starting lineup against Colorado on Wednesday. Richar went for a MRI on his problematic back before the game, re-aggravating the problem that stopped him at the start of camp.
Coupled with his late arrival due to visa problems in exiting the Dominican Republic, Richar still appears headed to Triple-A Charlotte or to the 15-day disabled list.
"It's very frustrating," Richar said. "I'm bidding for a position, and I can't play at 100 percent."
In speaking about the roster, Guillen reiterated how he will have the 25 men set by the time the team breaks camp for an exhibition game in Oklahoma next Friday. In fact, Guillen said he will be close to answering a great deal of the remaining questions after the team's three-day Cactus League road trip to the Phoenix area beginning Thursday.
Uribe, an entertaining and talented but somewhat inconsistent figure, is front and center on that list of four or five players battling for the last few spots. The waiver possibility emerging on Wednesday doesn't necessarily take him out of that White Sox roster equation.
"Not because you're on waivers, you're being released," Guillen said. "He's on waivers to see if somebody wants him, that's what I understand. I don't have the title to tell you guys this is it, when it's not. We're going to wait three days to see what it is. I've been on waivers before with the Atlanta Braves and nobody wanted [me].
"We have a meeting this morning and we talked about Uribe like he was on the team. From 8:30 a.m. to right now, that's news to me."
As for his best guess to the starting second baseman if the season began on Thursday, Guillen provided a diplomatic response.
"If the season starts tomorrow, obviously it has to be Pablo Ozuna (against C.C. Sabathia)," Guillen said. "Then, the next day, we'll find out who is the second baseman."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.