Dayan Viciedo believes he’s in a better spot and now he can prove it.
The White Sox outfielder is the biggest benefactor after Thursday’s news that teammate Avisail Garcia is out for the season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Viciedo, who began the 2014 campaign on the trade block and in a left field platoon with Alejandro De Aza, is expected to see the bulk of the playing time in Garcia’s absence. Jordan Danks was also promoted Thursday, but the White Sox want to see what Viciedo does with another full-time opportunity.
“We get a chance to see if (Viciedo) can make the improvements that he's shown signs of making already,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “He's going to have the opportunity to play on a more regular basis in all probability and perhaps entrench himself as part of this new long-term core we're trying to put together.”
Whereas since December he appeared to be on the way out of town, specifically after Adam Eaton and Garcia were acquired 4 1/2 months apart, Viciedo, 25, is back in the thick of things. He’s not happy about how he regained this position, calling Garcia’s injury “tough” and something he didn’t want to discuss.
But Viciedo doesn’t mind talking about his mindset and how he feels better at the plate. He attributes it to strike zone discipline and a good plan that he and the team’s hitting coaches have worked on.
“But more important than that is staying more consistent with the plan and staying with your routine every day,” Viciedo said through a translator. “That’s what’s most important. We’ll do our best to stay with that, and it’s very important to have a lot of confidence in myself.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said it has been clear that Viciedo has taken to the lessons. Ventura would like to see more from a player he, as recently as last spring training, believed could be a middle-of-the-order bat with 40-homer potential. It all boils down to pitch selection and the ability to go to the right side, something Viciedo has shown for stretches.
“He’s in a better spot approach wise than he was in the last couple years, you hope continues,” Ventura said. “When you swing at a lot of pitches that aren’t in the zone, pitchers allow you to do that as the season goes along if you don’t clean it up. So far he’s been cleaning it up.”
With Viciedo and De Aza still on the roster, Hahn believes the White Sox have enough options to make up for Garcia’s injury. Hahn wouldn’t disclose what trade offers he received for either player, but said the White Sox didn’t feel as if they were being offered fair value.
“I do know that both of those players are highly valued by this organization and they’re here because we placed a high value on them and if we were to move them it would only because we felt we were getting an equal or greater value, which obviously didn’t happen,” Hahn said.
Viciedo doesn’t look at this as a huge opportunity because he felt he was given one once he made the club out of camp. But he does agree that he needs to make the most of every chance he receives.
“You’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities,” Viciedo said. “Since you make the team, you have opportunities every time you step at the plate. It wouldn’t be so much because Avisail is hurt. I feel really bad about that. But opportunities are there every time you go to the plate.”