What should the Sox do with Viciedo, Dunn?

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What should the Sox do with Viciedo, Dunn?

In his last four games, Dayan Viciedo is 8-16 with three home runs and only one strikeout. That doesn't sound like someone you want to bench for a few games, right?

The Sox might have to do just that, though, when they head to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs this weekend. Adam Dunn appears slated to play left field against right-handed starters on Friday and Saturday, which makes sense given the Sox can't afford to take his bat out of the lineup at this point.

Of course, one torrid stretch doesn't mean Viciedo will continue to hit the daylights out of the ball going forward (the ol' slumpsstreaks aren't predictive theory). But things are finally going Viciedo's way after he looked lost for the previous 20 or so games. If he's feeling locked in, keeping him in the lineup could keep him that way.

But the only option the White Sox have to keep Viciedo in the lineup is move him to third base for a few games. That's been brought up a few times in the last couple days, which is an interesting narrative. And given Brent Morel hasn't shown any signs of life recently (.337 OPS in May), benching him in favor of Viciedo, a former third baseman, has been broached as a strategy for interleague play.

But Viciedo hasn't played third base since 2010 in the minor leagues, and when he was at the hot corner he wasn't good. Given he's previously brought his defensive struggles with him to the plate, two games at third base could stop this streak just as effectively as having him sit on the bench Friday and Saturday.

Robin Ventura intimated this week that Viciedo probably won't reprise his role as a third baseman for interleague play, too, so that likely closes the book on that. It stinks for Viciedo and the White Sox lineup, but it's probably for the best.

White Sox like short- and long-term payoff from Tim Anderson's battle with Jake Arrieta

White Sox like short- and long-term payoff from Tim Anderson's battle with Jake Arrieta

What arguably was the best at-bat of Tim Anderson’s nascent major league career ended with a strikeout. 

Anderson led off the sixth inning of the White Sox 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday with a 10-pitch at-bat against reigning National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. He fouled off four consecutive pitches, three of which came on a 3-2 count, before taking a sinker on the black for strike three. 

What happened after Anderson’s at-bat was where the payoff from it came: Melky Cabrera drew a walk and Jose Abreu lined a single to right. After Justin Morneau struck out looking on a high curveball — the pitch was out of the strike zone, according to BrooksBaseball.net — Todd Frazier launched a three-run home run.

 

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“I kind of felt like that got us some momentum, even though I did strike out,” Anderson said.” It kind of got him (Arrieta) flustered a little bit, got him off rhythm and we were able to capitalize on that.”

The 23-year-old Anderson hasn’t made a living on patient, lengthy at-bats since being promoted to the majors in early June. Anderson entered Tuesday’s Crosstown date with the Cubs seeing an average of 3.56 pitches per plate appearance, ranking 278th out of 310 players with at least 150 plate appearances this season (former White Sox and current Atlanta Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski is last with 3.09 P/PA, while the Cleveland Indians’ Mike Napoli leads the majors with 4.59 P/PA). 

Anderson also has the lowest walk rate (1.2 percent) of any player with 150 plate appearances, which would explain why he only has a .281 on-base percentage despite hitting a relatively healthy .273. 

It’s relatively rare for a player to have a walk rate as low as Anderson’s and have an above-average season at the plate. The lowest walk rates for players with a wRC+ over 100 (100 being average) over the last three years: Adam Jones (3.6 percent walk rate, 119 wRC+ in 2013), Dee Gordon (3.8 percent walk rate, 113 wRC+ in 2014) and Jones (2.8 percent walk rate, 116 wRC+ in 2015).

[RELATED: White Sox VP Kenny Williams: Hahn, Ventura handled Sale situation in 'excellent fashion']

Eventually, Anderson will have to become more patient at the plate to maximize on his outstanding contact skills. The battle he had with Arrieta showed he can fight off plenty of pitches from one of baseball’s best hurlers, which manager Robin Ventura saw as a positive long-term sign. 

It didn’t hurt things in in the short-term view of the sixth inning Monday, either. 

“He’s getting a taste of some good pitchers,” Ventura said. “I think that’s part of his process going through the league, seeing these guys. He doesn’t back down, he’s a very confident kid. You learn something as well as be productive. You like to see a kid fight like that at the plate.”

White Sox VP Kenny Williams: Hahn, Ventura handled Sale situation in 'excellent fashion'

White Sox VP Kenny Williams: Hahn, Ventura handled Sale situation in 'excellent fashion'

Kenny Williams doesn’t want the fallout from Chris Sale’s latest incident to drag out any longer.

The White Sox executive vice president said Tuesday he’d like to move on and thought going into detail on Sale’s comments about Robin Ventura or any other aspect of the incident that led to the pitcher’s suspension would be counterproductive.

Sale is in the third day of a five-game suspension imposed by the club for insubordination and destruction of team property after he destroyed the throwback jerseys they were set to wear on Saturday and was sent home early. On Monday, Sale told MLB.com that Ventura needed to stand up for his players when they objected to the 1976 unis.

“The one thing I can say is the way that Rick and Robin I think handled the situation, it was a difficult situation, certainly a unique situation, but one in which I think they handled in an excellent fashion,” said Williams, who was at an out-of-town event Saturday.

Sale defended his decision to destroy the uniforms, an act the Associated Press reported cost him $12,700 in fines as well as the suspension. Some players objected to last year’s throwback uniforms and the team altered them to make them more comfortable.

But Sale made it clear in spring training and again on Friday he didn’t wear them. He said wearing the throwbacks could hinder performance and thought it was a promotional stunt where the club put business in front of winning. Sale also disagreed with how Ventura, who sent him home early and scratched him from making a start, handled the situation.

[RELATED: Suspended Chris Sale will start Thursday against Cubs]

Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” Sale said. “If the players don't feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix -- it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that's when I lost it.”

Ventura didn’t directly address Sale’s comments on Tuesday in an effort to move on from the incident. Asked if he believed he and Sale can co-exist, Ventura said yes. He also said he didn’t think he would have handled the situation any different.

Sale previously ripped Williams endlessly in a 14-minute media session in March after Adam LaRoche abruptly retired over a dispute with management about how often his son Drake could be around the team. The White Sox declined to suspend Sale at that point, but didn’t hesitate to do so on Sunday. Hahn said Sale’s actions warranted the punishment.

Williams was asked if the organization would try to keep Sale on a tighter leash in the future. But rather than launch into a diatribe of his own, Williams suggested its better for all parties if they work through the scenario internally than have it play out in the media.

“You know me and I’m never one to shy away from a direct question,” Williams said. “But I’m more interested in moving on. Any further comment beyond what I said is counterproductive to all of that. At one point in my career, you probably would have gotten me to comment in a very different way.”

White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon ‘back on track’ after rehab start Monday

White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon ‘back on track’ after rehab start Monday

Carlos Rodon threw 58 pitches in a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte on Monday and is optimistic he’ll return to the White Sox starting rotation soon. 

The 23-year-old left-hander was placed on the 15-day disabled list July 9 (retroactive to July 6) with a sprained left wrist, a bizarre injury he suffered when he slipped coming out of the White Sox dugout at U.S. Cellular Field before a game July 8 against the Atlanta Braves. He threw 3 2/3 innings yesterday in Louisville against the Cincinnati Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits with two walks, three strikeouts and one home run.

More important than the results to Rodon, though, was how he felt in his first game in nearly three weeks. 

“I felt good,” Rodon said. “Back on track.”

The plan for Rodon is to throw again with the White Sox before returning to the team’s rotation, though. Manager Robin Ventura didn’t set a timetable but said the 2014 No. 3 overall pick is “headed in the right direction.”

[MORE: Suspended Chris Sale will start Thursday against Cubs]

The N.C. State product hit the disabled list earlier this month with a 4.50 ERA, 4.42 FIP and 91 strikeouts, 32 walks and 15 home runs over 92 innings. Once he returns, he’ll hope to hit the reset button on what’s been an up-and-down second year in the major leagues. 

Rodon said his goal was to throw 60 pitches on Monday, so he was only two pitches off from that mark. And when he returned to U.S. Cellular Field Tuesday, he remained encouraged with his recovery process. 

“Everything responded well,” Rodon said. “Just looking forward to this next start here.”