Lineup variety figures to be the norm

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
10:40
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Expect lineup changes to be the norm this season as Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura gets a better read on his personnel.

Monday's Opening Day lineup was a bit of surprise as rookie Marcus Semien batted second, while Connor Gillaspie batted third, despite a number of other middle-of-the-order options.

[+] EnlargeJose Abreu
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJose Abreu had two hits in the cleanup spot Monday, but he could end up in the three-spot.
The lineup for the opener: Adam Eaton, CF; Semien, 2B; Gillaspie, 3B; Jose Abreu, 1B; Adam Dunn, DH; Avisail Garcia, RF; Alejandro De Aza, LF; Alexei Ramirez, SS; Tyler Flowers, C.

It would make sense that Ventura mixes and matches his parts to find the best fit. It wouldn't even be a surprise if the White Sox end up leading the league in starting-lineup options, although that "honor" would probably go to the team that has the most injury issues.

The first lineup variation could come as early as Wednesday in game No. 2. Tuesday was a scheduled off day. The White Sox won't see their first left-hander until Saturday at Kansas City and an entirely new brand of changes will open up at that point.

After Eaton singled in his first two at-bats Monday, Semien followed with a double-play grounder and a popped up bunt, respectively. Meanwhile, Ramirez, who was a mainstay in the No. 2 hole last season, had two hits in the opener.

Abreu looked comfortable in the cleanup spot, hitting the ball hard in all four trips to the plate, but he could end as the No. 3 hitter at some point.

The biggest influence on the Opening Day lineup seemed to be Ventura's desire to sandwich Dunn between Abreu and Garcia. And he didn't seem to want Dunn batting in the three or four spots because of his strikeout tendencies.

That, more than anything, seemed to influence his decision to move Gillaspie up to the No. 3 hole, and the young third baseman was able to deliver a double, walk and run scored to the cause.

"(De Aza) will have more chances to drive in runs that you just don't get as a leadoff hitter," Ventura said Monday. "He has some pop too; he had 17 homers (last season) so I don't see it as a demotion as much as giving him more opportunities where he's at. And Adam, where he's at, he's where he belongs too."

The Minnesota Twins will go with another right-hander in the second game as Kevin Correia takes the mound. Ventura could be inclined to give his original lineup hunch one more shot, or he could rearrange the pieces to find an even better fit.

Either way, it seems like lineup varieties will be coming sooner or later.

Up next: After Tuesday's off day, the White Sox will send right-hander Felipe Paulino to the mound on Wednesday to face the Twins' Correia (9-13, 4.18 ERA in 2013). Paulino hasn't pitched in the major leagues since 2012 after needing elbow and shoulder procedures. The game is a 1:10 p.m. start at U.S. Cellular Field.

Doug Padilla

Chicago White Sox beat reporter
Doug joined ESPN Chicago in July 2010 and covers the Chicago White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
10 2.03 165 142
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .316
HRJ. Abreu 33
RBIJ. Abreu 97
RJ. Abreu 70
OPSJ. Abreu .979
ERAC. Sale 2.03
SOC. Sale 165