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Saturday, March 12, 2011
Guillen has plan to combat shaky offense

By Doug Padilla

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After some offensive eruptions earlier in the week made it seem as if the White Sox bats were getting a feel for their run-scoring potential, the club has been alarmingly quiet of late.

Consistency issues heading into the regular season have plagued White Sox teams in the Ozzie Guillen era, so the manager is taking action this year.

Over the final 7-10 games of the Cactus League season, Guillen will play the Opening Day lineup at least seven innings, and possibly as many as nine, to give them a chance to build the continuity they need.

The only exceptions will be with Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn exchanging designated hitter and first base roles and Mark Teahen and Brent Morel alternating games at third base. Teahen’s offense has been impressive enough to keep Guillen from naming his Opening Day starter at third.

Carlos Quentin
Carlos Quentin has struggled this spring, hitting .120.
Guillen is hoping to avoid the lulls the White Sox experienced Friday and Saturday. The White Sox had just one run heading into the ninth inning of Friday’s game against the Cubs, but that was with a number of reserves in the starting lineup.

On Saturday, only Gordon Beckham was out of the lineup, with Teahen, the better offensive option, playing third against the Rangers. The sluggishness still continued.

So much for 28 runs in two split-squad games Monday, nine runs a day later against the Rockies and seven runs Thursday against the Rangers, not to mention a fast start in Thursday’s night game against the Diamondbacks.

Part of the problem with getting into a steady flow this spring is that Konerko and Carlos Quentin have yet to get going. With 2 weeks of spring games left there is no need to panic, but Konerko’s struggles are less troubling simply because he has a track record of being able to avoid extended issues.

Quentin’s dry spells have been known to last longer, but to be fair, he’s also shown stretches where he capable of carrying a club. So far, though, it seems as if his consistency issues have not been resolved.

The White Sox have 17 games remaining in Arizona so there is plenty of time to get in a flow. Curiously, just five of those games are against American League clubs (two vs. the A’s and one each against the Mariners, Angels and Royals).

That will also be the stretch where the third-base job is decided. Teahen has four throwing errors but is batting .474. Morel is playing steady defense but is batting .143.

“Morel is not going to make the team because he’s going to hit .600 or .700,” Guillen said. “That’s a decision we’re going to make: Are we going to go with better defense or Teahen’s offense. I’m not afraid to play Morel with this ballclub at all. But in the meanwhile, either way, if we keep Morel at third base, I’m not going to guarantee Teahen anything because look, if I guarantee 300-350 at-bats [and] I don’t do it, I’m going to look bad.

“But if Morel gets [the third-base job,] I’m going to give [Teahen] a lot of at-bats during the season because we can do a lot of things with him. We can play him at third, we can play him in right field, we can play him a little bit at first base. We can DH him if we need him. And I think the at-bats are not going to be the issue for him. But, like I say, from now on, we have seven [staff] meetings, and we got to make the decision to what is best for the club. Whoever we feel good about, then that’s what we’re going to take.”