Sunday, March 4, 2012
Ventura has faith in Rios in No. 3 spot
By Chris Silva
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Chicago White Sox lineup for Monday’s Cactus League opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers has a regular season look to it. And should right fielder Alex Rios hold down the No. 3 spot in the batting order moving forward it would only reaffirm first-year manager Robin Ventura’s stance on giving players a clean slate.
“For me, I look at what I see right now and what he’s capable of,” Ventura said on Sunday. “Again, you’re going to back to the clean slate with everyone and that’s where he’s at for me right now. He’s done well.”
Rios hit a career-worst .227 last season with the fewest RBIs (44) since his 2004 rookie season. With men on base, he hit .213 with 36 RBIs. He had 25 at-bats in the No. 3 spot in the lineup, where he batted .280 with three doubles and four RBIs. However, Rios did finish the season on a good note, hitting .307 in September with five homers and 11 RBIs, and he said last week that he’d be surprised if he didn’t return to form this season.
Judging by the confidence his manager has in him, Ventura surely shares that sentiment.
“I like Alex there,” Ventura said. “He’s been swinging it great. You look at everything he has, he would be that guy who fits that spot. That’s where we’re going. I trust him.”
But Monday’s lineup isn’t etched in stone as the Opening Day look against the Texas Rangers on April 6. It’s likely that the lineup can, and will, change depending on the matchups, especially toward the bottom of the batting order with Viciedo, Morel and Beckham.
“It could change for me with a lefty, either putting Brent [Lillibridge] in there or Gordon at the top,” Ventura said. “If Lillibridge is there, it kind of changes that around, too.”
For Monday morning’s B game at Cleveland in Surprise, Ariz., the lineup will be: Ray Olmedo (shortstop), Brandon Short (left field), Jim Gallagher (first base), Dallas McPherson (third base), Delwyn Young (right field), Jordan Danks (designated hitter), Trayce Thompson (center field), Josh Phegley (catcher) and Tyler Kuhn (second base). Lefty Jose Quintana will get the start.