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Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Rios still fine-tuning his approach

By Doug Padilla

Alex Rios
Alex Rios has three hits in seven at-bats through two games this season.
CHICAGO -- Alex Rios says the mental part of his game is ahead of the physical part as the season gets underway, and when the latter catches up to the former he could be well on his way to a productive year.

Rios, who played for his native Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic this spring, got off to a solid start when he delivered a walk and two singles on Monday and went 1-for-4 on Wednesday. Where Opening Day can bring its fair share of jitters, Rios already went through that while advancing to the WBC title game with Puerto Rico.

"I think it helps you mentally to get rid of that anxiety of the start of the season but physically you don't get to work the same way you usually work during spring training," Rios said of the WBC. "You don't get into a routine as quick as you do in spring training. It might have helped, it might have not helped."

It sounds as if Rios might not be exactly where he wants to be despite three hits in two games. There is another area that figures to provide Rios more guidance as the season progresses.

"I don't think the WBC will have that much of an impact on how we do during the season," he said. "It's just games but with another level of preparedness and readiness during spring training. I think that what's going to help me is what I did last year the adjustments I made and if I carry them over to this season."

Among the changes Rios made to help with some solid production in 2012 was to stand taller at the plate and simplify his mental approach.

Now in the No. 3 spot of the batting order after hitting fifth for most of last season, Rios is not saying that things will be as simple as using the same plate strategy he used in 2012.

"Obviously you're going to have to make adjustments during the game with the different situations that are going to occur," he said. "But besides that it is just another at-bat. But you're going to have to adjust to the situations of the game. The game will dictate what you will do."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura remains convinced that even though Rios seems to think the three-hole could require a different approach he won't let it affect his game.

"I still think whether he played in the WBC or not, he was going to be fine this year batting wherever he was going to bat," Ventura said. "He just looks comfortable for me and looks the same as he did last year, just knowing what he's doing and how he's doing it."