Sox offense picks up slack in Konerko's absence

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Sox offense picks up slack in Konerko's absence

CHICAGO -- With the first round of the BP Crosstown Cup taking place at Wrigley Field, Dayan Viciedo didn't figure to see much time on the field.

The White Sox were losing the option of the designated hitter, and manager Robin Ventura had already said Adam Dunn was going to see time in left, with Paul Konerko staying at first base.

Viciedo got his chance Friday when Konerko had to leave the game after taking an 85 mph splitter from Jeff Samardzija to the left eye.

The 23-year-old outfielder stroked a one-out single to center in the first inning Saturday to put the White Sox on top early. He followed that up with a two-run homer in the third inning that just snuck into the basket in left center.

"We got Dayan swinging it pretty good," Ventura said. "He had some big hits to get us on the board and let starter John Danks relax a little bit."

"That's always huge," Danks said. "We'll take all the runs we can get, especially early. That allows us to relax and stay aggressive."

In the four games prior to Friday, Viciedo totaled eight hits -- including three homers -- and seven RBI.

"Viciedo was swinging it good before," Ventura said. "It'd be nice to have Paul in there, too. But you get Viciedo swinging the bat the way he is, it's nice to have him to be able to fill in for Paulie."

After the White Sox 7-4 win over the Cubs Saturday, Ventura said he didn't think Konerko would be able to suit up and go Sunday afternoon in the series finale.

Jake Peavy -- Sunday's starting pitcher -- said prior to Saturday's game that the Sox needed other guys to step up in Konerko's place.

The heart of the order (Dunn, Viciedo, A.J. Pierzynski) did just that, scoring and driving in five runs. Each guy also had a home run.

Dunn was especially hot, walking four times in addition to his solo blast in the eighth.

"I see the ball pretty good here," he said about Wrigley Field "The environment makes it a pretty good place to play in."

Pierzynski echoed his teammate's thoughts.

"The fans here are always great," the White Sox backstop said. "They're always fun. It's always packed. Fans are always yelling and screaming, cheering and booing. The ballpark is just fun.

"You can't really explain it. It's just a fun place to play. I always enjoy these three games and then the three games at our place."

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As he surveyed the landscape this offseason, Peter Bourjos thought he and the White Sox would make for a good fit.

Adam Eaton had been traded and Austin Jackson departed via free agency, leaving the White Sox with Melky Cabrera and several young players to man a thin outfield. Bourjos, who lived in Chicago until second grade, pursued the White Sox and last month agreed to terms on a minor-league deal in hopes of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Last season, Bourjos, who was born in Chicago, hit .251/.292/.389 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 383 plate appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I always liked playing in Chicago,” Bourjos said. “It was a good fit and then spring training is here. I have two young kids. So packing them up and going to Florida wasn’t something I wanted to do either.

“We definitely look at all those options on paper. Evaluate what might be the best chance of making a team and this is definitely one of them. It seems like a good fit on paper.”

If he’s healthy enough, Charlie Tilson will get the first crack at the everyday job in center field. Tilson, who missed the final two months of last season with a torn hamstring, is currently sidelined for 10 days with foot problems. Beyond Tilson, the White Sox have prospects Adam Engel and Jacob May with Cabrera slated to start in left field and Avisail Garcia pegged for right. Leury Garcia is also in the mix.

But there still appears to be a good shot for Bourjos to make the club and manager Rick Renteria likes his veteran presence for the young group. Bourjos has accrued six seasons of service time between the Phillies, Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals.

“Bourjy has been around,” Renteria said. “He knows what it takes. He understands the little nuances of major-league camp and how we have so many players and we want to give them all a look. We want to see Bourjos, we want to see him out there.”

Bourjos, who turns 30 in March, has an idea what he wants to do with his chance. A slick defensive outfielder, Bourjos wants to prove he’s a better hitter than his .243/.300/.382 slash line would suggest. He said it’s all about being relaxed.

“Offensively just slow everything down and not try to do too much,” Bourjos said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and it hasn’t translated. I think last year I got in a spot where I just tried to relax in the batter’s box and let everything go and what happened happened. I had success with that.

“I now realize what that feels like and it doesn’t work. Just take a deep breath and be relaxed in the box and good things are going to happen.”

Gio, Geo and Gio: White Sox spring training has its own version of 'Who's on First?'

Gio, Geo and Gio: White Sox spring training has its own version of 'Who's on First?'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Giovanni Soto pitched to Geovany Soto at White Sox camp on Monday morning, and the Internet loved it.

The veteran catcher and rookie pitcher, who share similar names and have been friends for two years, worked together during live batting practice. The unrelated pair, who both hail from Puerto Rico, said they’ve been confused for each other several times since reporting to camp last week. Each has also heard the other’s name being called out and thought it was for them, which has led to more confusion. But those mix-ups haven’t limited their enjoyment of the situation, either.

“It’s kind of surreal that he has the same name, last name,” Geovany Soto said. “It’s kind of weird calling him Gio and he’s calling me Geo. It’s kind of weird.

“With the physicals, doctors, the people for the drug testing, we’ve been confused in all three of those. I’m expecting that to happen. Hopefully I can get a big check on his name and cash it.”

The social media world isn’t alone in its enjoyment of the topic as both players smiled while discussing it on Monday.

Giovanni Soto said the players met two seasons ago when he pitched for the Cleveland Indians and the catcher was in his first stint with the White Sox. They grew up about 20 minutes apart from each other in Puerto Rico and now spend time together in the offseason. But what has made the scenario even more confusing is that White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito is seated only a few stalls away from Giovanni Soto in the clubhouse.

“It’s kind of weird, especially in the clubhouse and on the field because when someone says Geo, we turn around to see if it’s for him or for me,” Giovanni Soto said. “And we also have Giolito, and people call him Gio. It’s weird, but it’s funny too.”

Both Sotos could make the team’s Opening Day roster.

Geovany Soto, who signed a minor league contract in January, is the most experienced catcher in camp and is favored to win a job. Giovanni Soto, who was claimed off waivers from the Cubs in November, is one of several relievers competing for a spot and could make the club if the White Sox decide to carry two left-handers in the bullpen. And while Giolito is expected to start the season at Triple-A, he could reach the majors at some point causing more pandemonium.

“There’s a lot of Geo going on with Giolito, Giovanni and then me,” Geovany Soto said. “And can get pretty hectic. But yeah, it’s fun for us.”