Viciedo won't be the answer to White Sox third base question

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Viciedo won't be the answer to White Sox third base question

When the White Sox signed a 19-year-old Dayan Viciedo in December of 2008, questions persisted about his ability to remain at his native third base. Viciedo stayed at the hot corner in his first two professional seasons, but was bumped to right field in 2011. This spring, Viciedo was moved to left, where he's played in his first full major-league season.

But with Brent Morel on the disabled list and Orlando Hudson hitting .183 as a member of the White Sox, some have wondered whether Viciedo could return to third base. Kenny Williams even broached the idea to the White Sox coaching staff, although it wasn't received too positively.

"It was just in conversation and I was shot down in the room pretty quickly," Williams said. "He wasn't as bad over there as people want to think he was. I think in an emergency situation he can go in there."

But that's just an in an emergency. The Sox have Hudson, Eduardo Escobar and Brent Lillibridge on their roster, all with experience at third base. All three of those players would likely enter a game at third over Viciedo.

Three months ago, Viciedo looked lost at the plate. It wasn't until the final week of spring training that he started to hit, although he tailed back off in April, posting a .585 OPS with 18 strikeouts and one walk in the month. But more noticeable was his lack of defensive confidence at his new position.

Williams noted during spring training that Viciedo looked "uncomfortable" in left field, which director of player development Buddy Bell took a step further.

"I'm sure there's a little bit of that, being able to separate your offense and your defense. I don't think there's any question about that," Bell told CSNChicago in March. "It would affect the most veteran of guys, so I would say yeah, it would affect him somewhat."

What Bell was getting at was that Viciedo's defensive issues could very well have been creeping into his offensive approach, leading to an all-around struggle. As Viciedo has looked more and more comfortable in left field, his offense has come around. Since May 2, Viciedo has hit nine home runs with a .829 OPS, right about in line with what was projected out of him prior to the season.

If Viciedo were moved back to third and wasn't comfortable there, it very well could negate the entire argument as to why he should be shifted out of left field. That's the worry, and that's something of which White Sox certainly appear cognizant.

"He's probably be scared to death right now," Williams said. "He's probably best where he is."

Rodon, White Sox battle Orioles on tonight on CSN

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Rodon, White Sox battle Orioles on tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon vs. Mike Wright

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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White Sox' win streak ends at six as John Danks struggles again

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White Sox' win streak ends at six as John Danks struggles again

BALTIMORE -- John Danks’ margin for error just isn’t very wide.

He and the White Sox discovered that yet again on Thursday night when the Baltimore Orioles made the veteran pay for several third-inning mistakes. With several potential options to choose from, whether or not the White Sox will give him another start to find a rhythm becomes the big question.

Danks surrendered a pair of long home runs and allowed six earned runs and the White Sox fell to the Orioles, 10-2, at Oriole Park at Camden Yard in front of 14,568. The loss snapped a six-game White Sox winning streak and is the team’s first defeat since Danks’ last start on April 21. A “miserable” April for Danks ended with his fourth loss in four starts and a 7.25 ERA.

“There’s 24 guys in there that are setting the world on fire,” Danks said. “That’s probably the most disappointing part of it. Shoot man, we were hot. Still are. These guys are going to be bounce back and we’ll be fine. But damn, got in the way of something special tonight.”

For Thursday night at least, manager Robin Ventura didn’t discuss if the team plans to make a change at the back end of its rotation. But the White Sox have shown they may entertain the idea.

A team off to its hottest start since 2006 jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run homer by Todd Frazier. But Danks yielded a run in the first inning and had to be bailed out by a great relay throw home to prevent a tie. Danks later walked Caleb Joseph to start the third inning and Manny Machado’s one-out double to right tied it at 2. Chris Davis launched a two-run homer to right-center field and Mark Trumbo followed with a solo shot to put the Orioles ahead 5-2.

Danks put up zeroes in the fourth and fifth innings, but exited after he surrendered a leadoff double to J.J. Hardy in the sixth. That run eventually scored during five-run Orioles rally against Jake Petricka.

Danks allowed nine hits and walked two while throwing strikes on 56 of 96 pitches.

“He’s just living in the middle of the plate and this is not the team to do it with,” Ventura said. “Right now we’re trying to make him better and we’re going to continue to work at that and continue to make him better so he can help us.”

It was only earlier this week when the White Sox went to the minor leagues for help when they promoted recently signed starter Miguel Gonzalez to give him an opportunity. While Gonzalez showed rust in Monday’s start, he also settled in against a tough Toronto Blue Jays lineup, which allowed the White Sox to rally for a big win.

Ventura said he was impressed with how Gonzalez handled himself against the Blue Jays in his first big league start of the season. However, Ventura didn’t make any commitments about the right-hander’s future and Gonzalez was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday.

But the decision to push Danks out of the series in Toronto, a team against whom he has poor numbers, raises questions about how long the White Sox might keep him in the rotation.

Ventura noted on Monday that the White Sox have several options from which to choose if they need help in the rotation.

Jacob Turner has a 2.49 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings at Charlotte. Erik Johnson, also at Charlotte, has a 3.24 ERA in three starts. And there’s Gonzalez, who went 30-21 with a 3.45 ERA from 2012-14 with the Orioles before he fell off last season.

“I don’t know if we’ve necessarily had that for a while,” Ventura said.

The White Sox have Monday off before they start a six-game homestand on Tuesday. That means they could skip Danks’ next turn in the rotation without moving around any of their other starters, a group Danks acknowledged is “dealing.” They also could stash him in the bullpen.

Danks felt confident he was dealing this spring in Arizona. He showed better fastball command than he had in some time, which had the White Sox front office feeling cautiously optimistic. But Danks didn’t have any fastball command on Thursday and he paid for it. For now, Danks said all he could do is work to improve and ignore the big picture.

“I’m in no position to pitch from behind, deep, long at-bats,” Danks said. “I’ve got enough to worry about here than anything else. I’ll be ready to go. I’ll work hard. I’m not going to pout or anything. Never have or never will. I guess it’s part of it. It’s not easy, but there’s only one thing to do and that’s work hard and get ready to take the ball.”

Back with White Sox, Carlos Sanchez handled demotion well

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Back with White Sox, Carlos Sanchez handled demotion well

BALTIMORE -- He may have been disappointed when he was sent to Charlotte last month, but Carlos Sanchez hasn’t let it affect his play.

Sanchez’s play at Triple-A has been so good that he’s back with the White Sox, at least temporarily.

The White Sox promoted the middle infielder on Thursday after they placed closer David Robertson on the bereavement list. Sanchez, who appeared in 120 games for the White Sox last season, is hitting .309/.356/.469 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 89 plate appearances at Charlotte.

“It’s never a good feeling for a guy trying to make the team,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He played well enough in spring training, but you make decisions based on what you need on the roster and it’s a tough one. But he’s always handled that well. Any time he’s gone down there he has gotten his work in.”

Sanchez said he tries to avoid looking at the big picture, which helps him remain focused on a daily basis. After they acquired Brett Lawrie and Todd Frazier in the offseason, the White Sox no longer had an everyday role for Sanchez, who spent most of last season at the starting second baseman. Because he’s only 23, the White Sox told Sanchez they wanted him to play every day and continue to improve. He has taken the message to heart.

“They don’t want to keep me here just to be on the bench,” Sanchez said. “They need me to play every day to keep developing my game, and I took it.

“I feel really good. My game is really good right now, so I’m just going to try to help the team. Whatever they need, I’m going to be there for my team.”