White Sox coaches encouraged by team’s execution in camp
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org March 22, 2013 11:04PM
White Sox infielder Conor Gillaspie impressed bench coach Mark Parent when he moved a runner over with a grounder to second this spring. | Mark Duncan~AP
Updated: April 24, 2013 6:16AM
PHOENIX, Ariz. — Three games separated the White Sox from first place last year. Over 162 games, there were enough failures on little things execution-wise that made the difference.
“It sticks out too much when the season is over, the little things we didn’t do,’’ bench coach Mark Parent said Friday.
Manager Robin Ventura, Parent and the rest of the Sox coaching staff emphasized situational hitting, baserunning and defending the stolen base in camp. Everything from getting better secondary leads and being more aggressive on the bases to coaches putting on pickoff plays from the bench to hitting a ground ball to second or short with a runner on third and less than two outs.
“The main emphasis is running the bases,’’ Parent said. “We have to be more aggressive, we have to have better leads, better secondary leads, better reads. We need to work on that throughout the year during batting practice.’’
Parent loved when Paul Konerko, who is slow, made a good read and almost caught up to Adam Dunn when he scored from second on a hit to right center.
“It’s really shown up so far,’’ Parent said. “That’s stuff in the past. In the past [we would] play it safe, go base to base. We can’t do that.’’
Infielder Conor Gillaspie said it’s good to work on situational hitting during batting practice, but there is no substitute for doing it in a game.
“It’s something we work on every day,’’ Gillaspie said. “In a game it’s whole different feel. Most of us can hit a fly ball in BP but doing it in a game is a different story. It’s so hard to do.’’
Gillaspie came up this spring with a runner on second, and even though the Sox were leading 4-0 he moved the runner over with a grounder to second.
“I was like, OK, I don’t have to do this but I’m not very good at this, so I did it,’’ Gillaspie said. “For me anyway, you have to do it in a game when pitchers know what you’re trying to do.’’
Parent liked seeing Gillaspie do that.
“We have to take advantage of things, have to move runners over,’’ Parent said. “The movement of runners has been better but getting guys in from third [with] less than two outs, we’re constantly talking to guys about that. Either it’s a mind-set they have or the focus is where they’re trying to hit the ball.
“It’s those little things that burned me as the season went on last year that in my mind we tried to do, but for whatever reason we didn’t. We’re going to do it this year.’’
NOTES: Jesse Crain is scheduled to test his right adductor in a minor league game Saturday. Possible fifth starter Dylan Axelrod, Matt Thornton and John Danks will pitch in a minor league contest Sunday, pitching coach Don Cooper said.
◆ Cooper acknowledged that Brian Omogrosso and Ramon Troncoso are the top candidates to replace Crain if he isn’t ready by Opening Day. Troncoso isn’t on the 40-man roster and is out of minor league options, so he’d have to clear waivers when Crain returns.
◆ Ventura is leaning toward Dunn batting fourth and Konerko fifth, but they are interchangeable depending on matchups.
WHITE SOX 4, ATHLETICS 4
LIGHTS OUT: The dim lighting at Phoenix Stadium might have been a factor, but Sox left-hander Jose Quintana was tough to hit from the start, with nine strikeouts and two hits allowed in 5 2/3 innings. Quintana walked three and was charged with two runs. “My fastball was working really well,’’ Quintana said. “My main goal is to help the team, but it’s also to throw close to 200 innings.”
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: With Dylan Axelrod likely to take John Danks’ spot in the starting rotation, the only pitching staff spot to be determined is in the bullpen if Jesse Crain (groin) can’t avoid the disabled list. Crain is scheduled to pitch Monday. Ramon Troncoso and Brian Omogrosso are vying to take Crain’s spot, and Troncoso had his worst outing Friday, giving up two hits, a walk and two wild pitches before finally getting the third out in the sixth. Hector Santiago struck out five in three scoreless innings.
AFTER TWO: With two outs in the fifth after Hector Gimenez fouled out with a runner on third, Tyler Flowers and Gordon Beckham each poked singles to right to drive in a run. With two outs, two strikes and the bases loaded in the eighth, Paul Konerko singled up the middle to score two and tie the score.
ON DECK: Jake Peavy, who has pitched only three innings in Cactus League games — he threw 97 pitches in a simulated game against Dodgers minor-leaguers on Monday — starts against the Dodgers. Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom also are lined up to pitch. With a sellout crowd expected at Camelback Ranch, the gates are opening a half-hour early at 5 p.m. local time.