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Friday, February 15, 2013
Rios hopes for another big season

By Bruce Levine

Alex Rios
Alex Rios had a resurgent season in 2012, batting .304 with 25 home runs.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The best player on the 2012 Chicago White Sox expects the same results or better this season.

Alex Rios was the club's most consistent hitter, finishing in the top 10 of five key offensive categories in 2012, and he batted .304 after slumping to .227 in 2011.

Rios, who turns 32 on Monday, is always consistent about his mindset coming into a new season .

"I feel very comfortable playing for this team and in this city," Rios said. "Like any other ballplayer, I have had some good years and some not as consistent. Regardless of the final numbers, I try to put out the same work ethic every time I hit the field or the weight room."

As the 2012 season took an ugly turn for White Sox hitters in September, Rios batted .320 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in the final month.

"We were the leaders all the way and when we started to lose it really wears you down," he said. "When you start telling yourself as a team you have to win or else it wears you down and makes people tired."

Rios has had up and down seasons since he was claimed on waivers by the Sox in August of 2009 with $60 million remaining on his contract.

"I was very happy with my game in 2012," Rios said. "I battled throughout the year and the consistency was there. That is one thing I am looking forward to repeating this season."

While the Sox are hoping that their young core of pitching will make them strong contenders again in 2013, Rios and his teammates are aware of the task at hand. Unseating the American League champion Detroit Tigers and staying ahead of the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians, who added veteran players during the offseason may be difficult.

"Last year our division had good teams to compete against. This year they appear to be even stronger," Rios said. "We will have to compete like we did last season and do better against teams like Detroit and Kansas City."

The White Sox failed to get the job done against those two division foes, winning just 12 of 36 games against the Tigers and Royals.

"With the young group of players we added last year, they did well and will learn from the pennant race last season," Rios said. "I think it will be a little easier for them, and they should feel more comfortable doing their jobs."