Outfielder Alex Rios says mechanical changes keyed 2012 success
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com February 16, 2013 8:14PM
Chicago White Sox pitcher Matt Lindstrom runs with teammates during spring training baseball in Phoenix, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Updated: March 18, 2013 7:10AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — While outfielder Alex Rios’ splendid bounce-back season coincided with Robin Ventura’s arrival as manager, Rios downplayed the correlation between the two.
‘‘I wouldn’t say that because I don’t think attitudes in the clubhouse affect an individual’s performance,’’ Rios said Saturday. ‘‘Attitudes are important to the team as a whole, but not individuals so much. I just made some adjustments that made me a better player and made me have the season I had. Mechanical changes were the key to the success.’’
Standing more upright in the batter’s box helped Rios put up numbers that made him the Sox’ most valuable player in 2012: a .304 average with 25 home runs, 91 RBI and 23 stolen bases. He ranked among the top ten in the American League in triples (eight), average with runners in scoring position (.348), extra-base hits (70), hits (184), total bases (312) and slugging percentage (.516).
Rios had a similar season in 2010, only to fall off drastically in 2011, so he avoids discussing expectations in spring training.
‘‘I don’t set goals because I don’t believe it helps you to do better,’’ he said. ‘‘I just try to perform at the highest level I can every day. But, yeah, I feel pretty good.’’
Pitching coach Don Cooper, bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen and bench coach Mark Parent had their eyes on right-handed reliever Matt Lindstrom during his bullpen session Friday.
Lindstrom, whom the Sox signed as a free agent during the offseason, wanted to work on staying over the rubber, cutting down his stride and using his 6-4 frame to his advantage.
‘‘Just my alignment toward the plate, nothing serious,’’ he said Saturday. ‘‘I could definitely tell a big difference, driving the ball downhill. You want the hitter to see the top of the ball, not the whole ball.’’
Lindstrom’s fastball doesn’t touch 100 mph, like it used to, but he’s still a power pitcher with a good sinker.
‘‘Major-league seasons take a toll on you,’’ Lindstrom, 33, said. ‘‘I’ve become a little smarter with my stuff. I used to try to overpower everybody. Now I try to pitch a little more.’’
Back in black
Third baseman Brent Morel, who missed most of last season with back issues, said he’s pain-free.
‘‘My mind-set stays the same, no matter whom they bring in,’’ Morel said of the Sox signing free agent Jeff Keppinger to a two-year deal in the offseason. ‘‘I’m going to try and win an every-day job at third base. Until they tell me differently and want me to do something else, that’s my mind-set.’’
This and that
The first full-squad workout is Sunday. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez, outfielder Alejandro De Aza and infielder Tyler Saladino were the only players who hadn’t checked in by Saturday.
† Slugger Adam Dunn got on the field for the first time, taking ground balls at first base and hitting in the cage. He will talk with the media Sunday.