The White Sox haven’t given up on Dayan Viciedo just yet.
But that doesn’t mean they have figured out what to do with him, either.
Viciedo, who turns 25 in March, could split time this season with Alejandro De Aza in left field. The Cuban also could remain the starter if De Aza is moved. Or, he could wind up traded himself.
But even though they haven’t clarified his situation, it’s pretty clear the White Sox still see Viciedo’s potential even after a disappointing 2013 partly derailed by an oblique strain.
“He went through stretches where he looked as good as anybody,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “And he also swings as hard as anybody. When he did get hurt, I think some of it helped him because he couldn't swing as hard as he had before. But that's part of him being a player and learning how to do it. He has the tools to do it. Again, we're looking at a kid that's continuing to grow and get better. We just want it -- I think everybody just wants it now.”
It’s easy to understand why Viciedo has appeal.
The third baseman-turned-outfielder has tremendous power to all fields. His bat speed is impressive. He’s a player the White Sox have touted as a potential middle-of-the-order bat.
When he broke into the majors in 2010, Viciedo, then 21, had a .840 OPS with five home runs and 13 RBI in 106 plate appearances.
He then had a strong showing at Triple-A Charlotte in 2011 where he continued to flash power and an improved eye at the plate. Viciedo then delivered 25 home runs and 78 RBI in 147 games for the White Sox in 2012.
But Viciedo’s 2013 totals -- 14 homers, 56 RBIs, 24 walks and 98 strikeouts -- didn’t match the club’s expectations. The White Sox worked with Viciedo all season to hit the ball to all fields as they tried to convince him his opposite-field power was good enough to make him successful.
At times, he got it and at others, he looked lost.
“There were occasions where you wanted to bump him into somebody,” Ventura said. “But again, he's a good kid and you look for good things. He's continuing to grow and the potential is there. Everybody has seen his power and his ability. When he goes on his little tears, he carries the team.”
General manager Rick Hahn said in Orlando last week he would have no problem with a Viciedo/De Aza platoon. Hahn doesn’t believe Viciedo projects as a platoon player. But he does think it could have temporary benefits.
“He has the ability to be an impact player as an everyday player,” Hahn said. “I don’t think he is limited to being a platoon-type player. To get the most out of his production right now, picking certain matchups might help him and get him back on track to being the player we think he’s capable of being.”
To temper what can -- at times -- be a wild swing, the White Sox tried to add a leg kick to Viciedo’s swing last season. But the adjustment disappeared by the time he returned from the disabled list. New hitting coach Todd Steverson sounds as if he plans to stay away from mechanical adjustments with his hitters this season and strictly focus on approach, which could benefit Viciedo.
The White Sox hope he learns from past experience and continues to use the entire field.
They also hope their perseverance pays off.
“That's part of the evolution of him becoming a better player,” Ventura said. “And again, we're just continuing to be patient with him.”