White Sox expecting big things out of Viciedo

White Sox expecting big things out of Viciedo

March 20, 2013, 11:15 am
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JJ Stankevitz

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Rick Hahn could've gone out and acquired a left-handed bat in the winter, during a time when speculation swirled the team was looking at Diamondbacks outfielder Jason Kubel. With A.J. Pierzynski off to Texas, the White Sox will enter 2013 with only one lefty in the middle of their order, that being Adam Dunn.

The White Sox didn't add that bat, though, because doing so would've likely come at the expense of Dayan Viciedo's development.

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This season will mark Viciedo's fourth in the majors, as the 24-year-old played in 67 games in 2010 and 2011 before assuming a starting role in 2012, in which he appeared in 147 contests. In his first full season with the White Sox, Viciedo hit 25 home runs, but only had an on-base percentage of .300, striking out 120 times with 28 walks in 543 plate appearances.

The White Sox are expecting more out of their young left fielder in 2013. Hahn said just that during the dead of winter at SoxFest in January, and in the heat of Arizona, the expectations for Viciedo haven't changed. He's worked with Harold Baines and Jeff Manto on incorporating a leg kick into his swing, designed to help his timing and pitch recognition.

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While Viciedo says he's not using that leg kick on every pitch, he doesn't envision dropping it from his approach.

"I'm going to keep trying it; I sees the benefits of it," Viciedo said through an interpreter Sunday. "It's something else to add to my repertoire hitting-wise."

On Friday against the Cubs, Viciedo didn't use the leg kick on a grand slam and two-run double. His front leg moved the same as it did last year -- a quick pick-it-up-and-put-it-down -- although he's less upright with his stance than in 2012.

One scout watched Viciedo specifically looking for a leg kick and thought the change was minimal, but told CSNChicago.com he's already seen Viciedo make "huge steps" this spring with regard to his plate approach.

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Implementing the leg kick is a learning process -- "slowly working to it," was the way Viciedo characterized it. Getting Viciedo away from being a dead-pull hitter, too, is another priority.

Without the leg kick, both of Viciedo's hits against the Cubs went to the opposite field. Viciedo views driving the ball the other way as a strength, even if he didn't always show it last year. Manager Robin Ventura sees it as a key to the outfielder's success.

"He's special when he starts hitting the ball over there like that," Ventura said after Friday's game. "If we can keep him right there -- I think that's the fight you have with young guys. They want to pull everything, but somebody like him, he's strong enough to take it [the other way] and put up some big numbers."

No matter what leads to Viciedo's success, though, the important thing is for the success to be there. He has plenty of power, but the question remaining is whether he can be consistent at the plate beyond hitting 25 home runs.

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The White Sox think that's coming, as does Viciedo.

"I feel like I'm preparing myself to have a good year and I feel good," he said.