Saturday, May 24, 2014
Marcus Semien's chances dwindling of late
By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- Playing opportunities are coming sparingly for Marcus Semien, although he did get the chance to start at third base Saturday.
And he did deliver two hits on four at-bats. But he also made a fielding error on a hard-hit ground ball in just his fourth start since May 7 (16 total games).
The rookie -- who was a huge asset at the start of the season, first at second base and then later at third -- has been in the background now that the regular Chicago White Sox infielders are relatively healthy and producing.
Second baseman Gordon Beckham came off the disabled list in late April and now is on a tear, posting a .381 batting average over his last 10 games, including a 3-for-4 performance Saturday.
Third baseman Conor Gillaspie missed two weeks with a hand bruise but now has hit safely in nine of his past 10 games, with a .359 batting average in that stretch. Gillaspie did have a sore Achilles tendon that made him unavailable Saturday, but he insisted he would be ready to play Sunday.
Prior to his two-hit game Saturday, baseball had been a bit rougher for Semien of late. Over his previous 11 games, he was 5-for-34 (.147). He also is batting just .221 on the season, but he has survived on a clutch gene that has allowed him to deliver 11 of his 17 RBIs in the seventh inning or later.
“He’s handled it,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Semien’s now diminished playing time. “The other option is he’s not here [and back in the minor leagues], so he’s handled it pretty well.
“For him, I think there’s some of it that he came up and he was playing every day and it becomes tougher when you’re doing that. You’re seeing who you get on a daily basis and you’re realizing this is the best of the best [pitching] that you get every day, so I’m sure a breather wasn’t all that bad for him.”
Had there not been so many injuries all around the roster, Semien might be back in Triple-A Charlotte by now. His penchant for clutch hitting seemed to spare him in a 50-50 roster decision earlier this year, when Jordan Danks was sent down instead.
If he is sent down, say when Jose Abreu comes off the disabled list as early as June 2, it doesn’t have to be viewed as a negative. The at-bats will be important, as will efforts to curb his strikeout rate. Despite reduced playing time, Semien’s 53 strikeouts still lead the team.
“The way [Beckham and Gillaspie] have been playing, you don’t necessarily want to mess with that; but everybody needs a day off sooner or later,” Ventura said.