‘Hungry’ trio of Sox looking to bounce back
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com February 25, 2012 11:30PM
Outfielder Alex Rios has a simple recipe for improving on his .227 average of 2011: “See the ball and hit the ball.” | John Smierciak~AP
Updated: March 27, 2012 8:28AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham, the three-headed monster of the White Sox’ disappointing 2011, arrived at spring training Saturday three days early.
“It shows they’re hungry. I like that,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “They’re showing the other guys they’re hungry.’’
Bounce-back seasons from all three are needed to give the Sox a competitive lineup. They can’t distance themselves from last season fast enough.
“I’m looking forward to starting over. I’m looking to having a productive year,’’ Rios said.
Rios, who will make $12 million, plans to simplify his approach at the plate. He doesn’t want to get bogged down in mechanics after he batted .227 with a .265 on-base percentage, 13 home runs and 44 RBI.
“See the ball, and hit the ball,’’ he said.
Rios might play left field if Alejandro De Aza takes over in center with Dayan Viciedo in right field. Rios said he’s more comfortable in center and right.
“Guys will just have to be open to moving around and do what’s best for the team,’’ Ventura said. “That’s what we have to go with, and guys have to be flexible.’’
In September, Rios moved his hands away from his body, and he had his best month, batting .307 with five homers and 11 RBI.
“The year that I had, it makes everything miserable,’’ Rios said. “I’m looking forward to having a hot start and keep going.’’
Dunn arrived around noon and will work out Sunday.
“I just wanted to get here early and get going,’’ he said.
He repeated that he hasn’t stepped on a scale, but he looks a little lighter.
“What are you, like 205?’’ Jake Peavy asked.
Dunn, who batted .159 in the first year of his four-year, $56 million deal, hit during the offseason for the first time in a while. New hitting coach Jeff Manto visited Dunn at his home in Houston.
“Hopefully, me and Jeff can get together and go over some things and see what he wants me to do and how he wants me to approach the season,’’ Dunn said.
Ventura said he will be patient.
“He has a clean slate,’’ Ventura said. “He’s not going anywhere.’’
Beckham said he will miss hitting coach Greg Walker but the second baseman knows a different voice in Manto can’t hurt.
“It’s never bad to have a change,’’ said Beckham, who is looking to rediscover his swing and confidence.
“He just has to be there for us to bounce ideas off us and encourage us,’’ Beckham said. “If he does that, he’s doing his job.’’
Beckham has an idea about what he needs to do.
“In ’09 I was good at getting loaded early,’’ Beckham said. “That’s something I sort of lost the last two years. I’ve worked on getting back a little sooner, make sure I’m loaded and having lag in my bat. Having that makes you hit offspeed and bad pitches, all that stuff. You can get fooled and still hit it hard.’’
NOTES: Jake Peavy has an infection in his right eye but did not miss his bullpen session.
◆ Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo are expected to arrive Sunday. Paul Konerko, Alejandro De Aza and Kosuke Fukudome are not in camp yet. Tuesday is the first full-squad workout.
◆ Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf turned 76 on Saturday.