Dayan Viciedo hasn't had a good spring. Through 23 at-bats, the 23-year-old has just a .426 OPS. But perhaps more concerning is that he's struck out 10 times. And he hasn't looked good in the field, either, culminating with him booting a ball in left field today.
That all led Tom Fornelli to wonder if Viciedo may begin the 2012 season with Triple-A Charlotte, with Kosuke Fukudome taking over a starting outfield spot. It's a good read, although I find it hard to believe the Sox would follow through with sending Viciedo to the minors.
First, it would shift the outfield alignment and probably hurt the overall defense of the club. Alex Rios would have to move back to center with Alejandro De Aza sliding over to left to accommodate Fukudome, who hasn't played an inning of left field in his major-league career. Maybe that'd be an overall improvement over having Viciedo in left, but the Sox would probably go from having two above-average defenders (De Aza, Rios) to just one (De Aza).
And of course, it'd be a tough pill to swallow for Viciedo. He doesn't have much left to prove at Triple-A after repeating the level last year -- from 2010 to 2011, Viciedo's plate discipline improved significantly, as did his on-base percentage. Defensively, it may be better for him to work out his kinks away from the spotlight, but offensively there's no reason to ship him back to the minors. Even if his spring training isn't good.
This isn't an absolute, though. If Viciedo's struggles persist into the regular season, perhaps he'll be a candidate to be sent down. But for now, I'd still expect him to be the starting left fielder on Opening Day.