Veteran Alex Rios comfortable being moved around White Sox lineup
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org April 3, 2013 8:58PM
White Sox Tyler Flowers hits a home run during the third inning at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Ill., on Wednesday, April 3, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 3, 2013 10:18PM
Alex Rios batted fifth in 2012 and had one of the better years of his career. Now he’s shifting to the No. 3 spot.
Manager Robin Ventura considered the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” theory, but he wanted to space lefties Alejandro De Aza at leadoff and Adam Dunn fourth or fifth. Hitting the speedier Rios ahead of Dunn, who batted third last year, is a plus.
“I don’t mind because I’ve hit third before,’’ Rios said “You just have to be aware of the different situations the games might present you and adjust. You have to adjust in any spot, but when hitting third pitchers are going to take that into account. But hitting third, with the hitters behind me, it could help me see better pitches.’’
With De Aza running, Rios will be hitting with more moving traffic in view.
“That doesn’t affect me at all,’’ Rios said.
“He was going to be fine this year batting wherever he was going to bat,’’ Ventura said. “He just looks comfortable for me and looks the same as he did last year.’’
Rios said the stiff back that sidelined him the last week of spring training is “100 percent.’’
Addison Reed threw more sliders saving Chris Sale’s victory on Opening Day, which is something hitters will see more of. Reed was more of a one-pitch pitcher during his rookie year, especially during the first half.
“The slider and the changeup are going to be important for him,’’ Ventura said. “Guys are getting on the fastball. Guys can hit fastballs. In the position he’s in being a closer, you are going to need more than just locating your fastball. He’s been doing that toward the end of last year and in spring training he was using it enough to get comfortable with it.’’
Ventura endured one of the more unsightly sports injuries as a player during spring training in 1997 when he suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his ankle. Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury brought back bad memories.
“Oh yeah, it does,’’ Ventura said. “Ironically, the trainer I had with the Mets, Fred Hina, is [Louisville’s] trainer. You feel for him. Few people can sit and see an injury or have something happen like that. I know what’s going through his head.’’
Ventura’s injury also affected his leg muscles, and he never returned to full strength. The pain from the ankle and leg forced him to use a cane and contributed to Ventura’s decision to retire from baseball.
“I think the recovery’s the hard part, being able to get your mind around making your way back,’’ he said. “[Ware’s] pretty young so I think that is in his favor. Again, your heart goes out to him for what he’s going through.’’