Rios: Consistency key for resurgence

April, 18, 2012
4/18/12
7:39
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox right fielder Alex Rios admits he is a different hitter today than any other season.

[+] EnlargeAlex Rios
AP Photo/Jim MoneAlex Rios cites his plate approach as the main reason for his struggles in 2011.
Rios constantly changes his mechanics at the plate. Coming off the worst season of his nine-year major league career, it isn’t his mechanics he’s worried about in 2012. He is just looking for some consistency.

“When I said consistency, I’m trying to get a better strike zone and swinging at better pitches,” Rios said prior to Wednesday’s game. “It’s not about mechanics or stuff like that. I’m trying to have a good approach and have that approach consistently.

“It’s not like I’m going to go through my whole mechanics because you’ll always change. At least me, myself, I change my mechanics very often.”

Rios believes last season’s struggles – a .227 average, .265 on-base percentage, .348 slugging percentage – were because he didn’t have the proper approach at the plate. He sees improvement early in the season.

“I’m trying,” Rios said. “It’s not something that happens real quick. I feel good. Hopefully, I can develop my good approach sooner than later.”


Rios is hopeful his two-hit performance against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday springboards him. It was his first two-hit game of the season and improved his average to .250 (7-of-28).

“It boosts your confidence a little bit,” Rios said. “That’s what I want to do. I want to have as many good games as I can have and to boost my confidence to where I can just go out there and play without thinking about anything.

“I had a couple good at-bats (Tuesday). I felt they were good at-bats. That’s it. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Despite some signs of improvement, Rios has still lacked power and has struggled against righties. He has one double and one home run on the season and is hitting .235 against righties.

Up until last season, Rios had been mostly solid against right- and left-handed pitchers. From 2004-2010, he averaged .284 against lefties and .281 against righties. In 2011, he hit .204 against righties and .287 against lefties.

Rios said he doesn’t put much stock in his statistical decline against righties.

“I don’t care if it’s righty or lefty,” Rios said. “I just try to have a good approach, have a plan when I go to the plate. If I have a plan when I go to the plate, it doesn’t matter if it’s a righty or lefty. If you stick to a plan, you’ll make things more easy.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura liked what he saw from Rios on Tuesday and is hopeful it will lead to more success.

“I hope so,” Ventura said. “I mean, he’s one of those who has worked hard in right field, with his swing and everything else. Again, you are looking for positive signs and that’s one of them. He gets the base hit early (Tuesday) and later in the game he hits the ball hard. He leads off the ninth with a walk. Those are all things you like to see.”
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.17 208 174
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .317
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208