Versatile Conor Gillaspie comfortable at both corners for Sox
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com April 4, 2013 9:58PM
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
The facts: 7:10 p.m., Ch. 26, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.
The pitchers: Blake Beavan
(11-11, 4.43 ERA in 2012) vs. Jose Quintana (6-6, 3.76).
The REST OF THE SERIES
Saturday: 12:10 p.m., CSN+, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. Felix Hernandez (1-0, 0.00) vs. Dylan Axelrod (2-2, 5.47 in 2012).
Sunday: 1:10 p.m., Ch. 9, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0, 1.50) vs. Chris Sale (1-0, 0.00).
Updated: April 5, 2013 10:41PM
Conor Gillaspie had never played first base in the major leagues before he finished the White Sox’ first two games at first as a defensive replacement for Paul Konerko.
Gillaspie, acquired mainly for his left-handed bat but also for the flexibility he gives manager Robin Ventura at several positions, played at first in 29 minor-league games.
“I’m really comfortable there, just as comfortable at first as I am at third,’’ Gillaspie said Thursday. “It’s different but similar.
“Double plays are kind of the tough thing at first base. With the runner right there, with runners on first and second, you have to play behind him and learn to stay out of his way when he’s getting a secondary [lead off the bag].’’
Look for Gillaspie to keep finishing up for Konerko or Adam Dunn and for him to start Saturday, possibly giving Konerko a day off after a night game for a noon start against right-hander Felix Hernandez. Gillaspie might play third with Jeff Keppinger moving to first base.
Ventura used Gillaspie, who has more range than Konerko, at first base quite a bit during the spring, boosting his comfort level. Gillaspie also has taken fly balls in the outfield and is the emergency third-string catcher.
Saturday also sets up as a day in which left-handed-hitting Dewayne Wise could spell Dayan Viciedo in left field and switch-hitting catcher Hector Gimenez will give Tyler Flowers a day off.
Matt Lindstrom, 33, has worked on a circle changeup the last three spring trainings, and even though he didn’t use it to get the big outs in relief Wednesday, look for the newest member of the Sox’ bullpen to show it in the future.
“Just to neutralize left-handers a little better,’’ said Lindstrom, who throws a two-seam fastball and slider. “I need something else. Everything I throw is hard.’’
Lindstrom got the third out of the seventh inning with the bases loaded, retiring Alcides Escobar on a fly to right.
“I wouldn’t say it’s getting off to a good start because it’s just one appearance, but having Robin’s confidence right there bringing me in with the bases loaded and then going back out there to get a tough hitter [Billy Butler] out was nice,’’ he said. “I appreciate that. I hope to keep earning that confidence.’’
Change of plans
Dunn, who tied Duke Snider on Wednesday with his 407th homer, 48th on the all-time list, said hitting the long ball gets tougher with age because pitching staffs are deeper than when he broke in.
“I never go up there and try to hit a home run,’’ Dunn said. “I used to, but not anymore. These guys are way too good now.
“Back when you could, there were guys throwing 86 mph, and you could sometimes go up there and say, ‘I’m going to try to hit one off the scoreboard here.’ Now, these guys are way too good to be doing that. You try to put the barrel on it and put good wood on it.’’
Dunn was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Thursday.
This and that
Flowers joined Sherm Lollar in 1958 as the only Sox catchers to homer in the first two games of a season. Atlanta’s Brian McCann in 2007 was the last major-leaguer to do it.
◆ The Sox agreed to terms on minor-league contracts with right-hander Jason Berken and infielder Tyler Greene and released outfielder Stefan Gartrell.
◆ John Danks allowed one run over five innings at an extended-spring minor-league game. Danks threw 77 pitches.