Thursday, May 6, 2010
Rios rebounding from disastrous Sox debut
By Bruce Levine
CHICAGO -- Alex Rios has been one of the nice stories so far this season.
The 29-year-old outfielder was a complete no-show last August when the White Sox claimed him and his $60 million contract from the Toronto Blue Jayson waivers. Rios hit just .199 for the Sox, and on Thursday admitted that his psyche and confidence were shot last fall.
"It's nothing I have to hide," Rios said. "It's just what happened. That was something I had to admit to get over and move forward."
Not many athletes have the intestinal fortitude to admit that they had lost their confidence or their belief in themselves. For Rios, it appears it was cathartic.
"I needed to look honestly at the situation," said Rios, who is hitting .306 with four home runs and 14 RBIs. "To me that was the only way to get over it. So far this season it has been OK."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has always been a big believer in Rios' ability.
"Not many guys have the guts to admit that they lost it," Guillen said. "It wasn't pretty last year. It's not easy to be traded after you've played in one organization and you go somewhere else where you are supposed to be the savior. Now that he has made adjustments since spring training, he has been great."
During the winter, Guillen said at Sox Fest that he expected Rios to hit 20 homers and steal 50 bases.
"You can't evaluate what a player is just by watching him for two months," Guillen said. "He can do some things. He's done it before. They didn't push him [to run] in Toronto. He's stolen bases before, he's hit home runs before. I don't see why he can't do it. This kid has great potential with us. I don't see why people are surprised by that."
Rios has fit in with the White Sox in spring training when he started to feel comfortable in the environment and get acquainted with his new teammates.
"When Toronto signed me I thought I would be there for a long while," Rios said. "That's what every ballplayer wants. But now I'm glad I'm here with a team that has a good chance to be in the playoffs and to play in a great city."
Rios had a career high in home runs with 24 in 2007 and in stolen bases with 32 in 2008.
For Rios, the Guillen experience has been a good one so far.
"He knows how to keep everyone loose," Rios said. "He jokes around a lot. But he really knows the game. He's very honest and tells you what he thinks. I think he's the type of manager every ballplayer would like to play for."