- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Dayan Viciedo was not in the lineup for a second consecutive game and if he has any hopes of getting consistent at-bats this season, he will have to get back to the basics.
The White Sox are trying to establish a young core of players and while the 25-year-old outfielder is the ideal age to be front-and-center of a youth movement, his inability to stick with the team plan won’t help him moving forward.
Viciedo got off to a slow start last season and after 18 games, he went to the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle. He returned May 10 and never got on track, showing a tendency to over-swing while also chasing pitches well out of the strike zone.
It was a brutal combination as his 14 home runs were 11 less than he hit in 2012, while his slugging percentage was also down 18 points to .426. Clutch hits were nearly non-existent as he struggled to make his presence felt.
“I’m just working in the cage right now,” Viciedo said. “I’m working with a little tee work, a little soft toss work. I want to keep myself sharp so when I get my opportunity I can provide for the team as well.”
Finding playing time in the early going might be tough. Alejandro De Aza got the start in left field the season opener and hit two home runs, leading manager Robin Ventura to put him in the lineup again Wednesday.
De Aza’s opportunity to play hasn’t been a surprise as he not only had a better spring training than Viciedo, he also bats left-handed and the Twins had a right-hander in Ricky Nolasco on the mound.
Viciedo’s first chance to play might not come until Saturday at Kansas City when the White Sox are scheduled to face a left-hander in Bruce Chen. When he gets his chance, Viciedo knows what he has to do.
“Basically, being more patient,” he said. “We talked about being more patient and being more selective as far as the pitches that we pick to hit. We worked on that during spring training. We had pretty good results. It’s a matter of staying consistent and continuing to do that.”
While Adam Eaton was obtained in the offseason to solidify things in center field, his arrival will also have an effect on left field. Now that De Aza is free to move over there, it could be just the motivation Viciedo needs to reach the potential that has been expected of him.
“Yes, that’s what every player wants, I want to play every day,” Viciedo said. “Right now, you have to deal with what you have. You have to stay sharp so when you get a chance to play, then you are able to do that and be able to help the team.”