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Sunday, April 21, 2013
New home a good fit for Gillaspie

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- Once the seas finally parted for Conor Gillaspie, the former first-round pick in the 2008 draft took complete advantage of the situation.

Conor Gillaspie
Conor Gillaspie is finally getting a chance with the White Sox.
One of the White Sox’s modest under-the-radar pickups between the end of last season and the start of this one, Gillaspie has started to move himself into the spotlight with solid play both offensively and defensively.

When spring training started, though, Gillaspie had nowhere to go. As a member of the San Francisco Giants organization he spent brief stretches in the major leagues but had been blocked by regular Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

So the White Sox moved in not long after players started arriving into spring camps and plucked Gillaspie away from the Giants in exchange for pitcher Jeff Soptic, currently 2-0 at Single-A San Jose, but with a 7.36 ERA after eight appearances.

“I never really worried too much about it honestly,” said Gillaspie, who said that getting out from behind Sandoval’s shadow gave him a small sense of freedom. “It’s not really worth it. Life’s too short to worry about a bunch of things you don’t have control over. You just have to just enjoy it. Enjoy the rise.”

The enjoyment, though, has been tempered by the White Sox’s early-season struggles. They were a team that was going to need the best out of everybody and didn’t have the depth to overcome too many injuries. Those unwanted injuries have surfaced early, but Gillaspie has helped to overcome some of it.

He got his chance to play when Gordon Beckham broke a bone in his hand. The versatile Jeff Keppinger was moved from third base to second, while Gillaspie got his chance at third.

“For him, it's probably the opportunity,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Once you get an opportunity to play, I think your confidence grows. And for him, I think that's been happening. Offensively, we knew he could swing it. He had a pretty good spring swinging the bat.”

Defense was more of a question mark. But so far he has proven to be just as adept with his glove. On Saturday he kept the game with the Twins tied in the late innings when he made a diving stop to his right. With the bases loaded, he got to one knee and threw the ball home for the force out. The White Sox still ended up losing in extra innings, but he gave his team another opportunity to win it.

He admits that it has been a work in progress to be able to make the type of defensive play he delivered Saturday.

“I’ve had to work on it a lot,” he said. “There are always things that certain guys don’t do well. It’s part of the growing process as a player is to take the extra time to work on things you’re not comfortable with.”

Speaking of being comfortable, Gillaspie said that even though his trade went down in February, he’s just now getting a chance to settle in.

“Pretty much everything is starting to calm down a little bit now that I’m moved into place and everything,” Gillaspie said. “It’s been a big adjustment getting used to playing in the American League. It’s just so much different.”

As far as the White Sox have seen it, the transition has been seamless, from Gillaspie’s production this spring, to his willingness to play some first base to his solid start this month.

“I think his thing is he's always willing to do whatever,” Ventura said. “I think if we asked him to catch, he'd probably do that too.”