The White Sox may enter the regular season without one of their young talents. According to the team’s official Twitter account, Dayan Viciedo will miss three-to-four weeks with a fractured thumb. The injury occurred earlier in the day when Dave Bush hit Viciedo with a pitch.

While the 22-year-old Cuban native entered the system as a third baseman, he spent last season split between third and first base. Throughout spring, Viciedo has taken to the corner outfield and may have been the frontrunner for the final bench spot. Viciedo tantalized the White Sox with a strong showing in his 2010 cameo, hitting .308/.321/.519 with five home runs. Viciedo’s line does not mention his horrid.08 walk-to-strikeout ratio, although to his credit, his minor league ratio was closer to .20.

Because of the perceived upside Viciedo offers, it is easy to overstate his importance to Chicago’s playoff chances. PECOTA is projecting a modest line of .260/.286/.425, which looks like a reasonable translation of his aggregate minor league production (.277/.313/.432). Since Carlos Quentin is a sneeze away from missing a month, the White Sox’s reserve outfielders may become regulars in a minute’s notice. Mark Teahen would appear to the immediate stand-in and yet he fails to inspire much confidence with a projection of .258/.326/.396.

In place of Viciedo, the White Sox will ostensibly choose from Brent Lillibridge, Alejandro De Aza, and Lastings Milledge (whose story was detailed in more depth last week). These were the same primary candidates entering spring, but as Scott Merkin pointed out, that was before Viciedo showed up in good shape. De Aza could be the favorite as he is out of options and has a similar offensive projection to Milledge (who is on a minor league deal and can be demoted without being exposed to waivers). If nothing else, the White Sox now have good reason to give Viciedo more time to develop before asking him to contribute in a meaningful manner.

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