White Sox Conor Gillaspie looks to lighten up

White Sox Conor Gillaspie looks to lighten up
February 21, 2014, 6:15 pm
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Conor Gillaspie believes the way he carried himself at times in 2013 was counterproductive.

Known for his intensity in the clubhouse, the White Sox third baseman said Friday he hopes to lighten up.

Gillaspie, who had a .245/.305/.390 slash line with 13 homers and 40 RBIs, thinks he was way too intense at times and his passion might have hurt his focus.

With that in mind, Gillaspie said he hopes to carry himself more like some of his veteran teammates whose demeanors don’t change much regardless of the type of day they’re having. Gillaspie believes if he can make the transition it will help him become a better baseball player in the long run.

Instead of coming in here tense and thinking about the game at 11 o’clock or noon and already starting to think about it, there’s really no need for that,” Gillaspie said. “I’m starting to understand that won’t help you in the long run. ... My poor games last year were games where I couldn’t let it go, couldn’t escape from trying too hard. I think my goal this year is that I want to be somebody that will not be flustered by anything, that doesn’t get down, doesn’t get super excited. Basically, somebody that you can’t get in their head.”

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White Sox manager Robin Ventura isn’t surprised to hear Gillaspie say he consumed himself with games hours before the first pitch. It’s only natural for younger players to be extremely intense, Ventura said.

But just because Gillaspie carried himself that way in the past doesn’t mean he should worry about his future. Despite needing to clean up defensively, Ventura likes Gillaspie’s low-maintenance swing and believes he’s a big leaguer.

Young players can do that a lot, not just particular to him,” Ventura said. “He’s a good player. He’s somebody that we know can be very effective. He can stay in the big leagues and be a very good player.”

Gillaspie also feels like he belongs.

He survived a rough three-month stretch in the summer where Gillaspie often wound up nothing to show for a good at-bat. From June 1 to Aug. 30, Gillaspie had a .214 average on balls in play compared to a .270 BABIP for the season.

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Gillaspie also endured an 18-game stretch in which he committed nine of his 17 errors.

The young third baseman can live with the results from those spells. He just wants to take it easier on himself when he’s in a rough patch. Gillaspie cited how veteran teammates Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko are able to be steady even when they’re struggling.

He hopes to emulate them.

“(Dunn has) had some rough spells,” Gillaspie said. “He’s had some great spells. He’s been through a lot. The thing about him is every day he comes in here with the same exact attitude. And if I can get to that point it’s going to make this job a lot more enjoyable for me because I’m so hard on myself. I’m so hard on losing games or if I screw up. There’s going to come a point in my career where that’s going to have to start tapering off a little bit. For some reason since the first day I stepped in here this year, I’ve felt a little bit differently than I did last year. I was constantly worried about things last year and stressed out and ‘What if this happens? What if that happens?’ The reality is watching guys like Dunn, Konerko even, those guys you wouldn’t be able to tell how they’ve done throughout the course of game when they come in the locker room or when you see them the next day. It’s pretty hard to tell what those guys have done. That’s going to be a big stepping stone for me as I get older and understanding that.”