Shakeup in White Sox’ order might be in the offing
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org April 24, 2013 10:53PM
Chicago White Sox Adam Dunn prepares to bat during the eighth inning at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Ill., on Wednesday, April 24, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 24, 2013 11:42PM
Manager Robin Ventura didn’t tinker with his lineup much during his first year on the job in 2012, even during periods when the offense was in a funk. He hasn’t much this season, either, but look for him to shake it up soon if the offense doesn’t turn around.
“Things could change and guys could move around, especially if the lineup doesn’t seem to be working,’’ Ventura said Wednesday. “You can move them around, you can sit them down and talk to them and tell them why.’’
That’s about as tough as Ventura has talked, at least publicly, since taking over as manager last season. The Sox stopped a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory against the Indians on Wednesday, but were held to five hits. They left more runs out there Wednesday, going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and that was an improvement of sorts. In their previous four games they were 0-for-10. They rank at or near the bottom of the American League in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS and runs.
After striking out his first at-bat, cleanup man Adam Dunn walked three times to keep his average at .100. If you must, call it steps in the right direction — Dunn had walked only three times all year.
“Walks are good, but he’s also here to hit some homers,’’ Ventura said.
On performance alone, Dunn should be moved down in the order, but the Sox are paying him $56 million over four years to drive in runs and hit homers. They probably won’t contend for the division if Dunn doesn’t perform to normal standards, so he’ll be given every opportunity to produce in the middle of the lineup. Ventura suggested there is a limit to his patience, though.
“Sometimes, this is their job,’’ Ventura said. “In some instances that’s the way it is. The other one is, if it’s not getting done we have to find someone to get in that spot and make the lineup better.’’
Ventura has protected his players in the media, but he is not taking an 8-12 start marked by poor defense and bad hitting very well.
“The other team is playing in [cold weather], too, and they’re not necessarily making mistakes or doing little things [wrong],’’ Ventura said. “We’re at a level where it’s about wins and losses. I’m not looking for a feel-good thing. We just need to play better, whether it’s raining or cold. We have to figure out a way to do it.’’
The Sox figured out a way Wednesday with good pitching, and Alexei Ramirez capped an acceptable day of team defense by making a diving stop to his left.
Alex Rios broke an 0-for-13 skid with a two-run homer, his team-high sixth. It came in the fifth inning on an 0-2 count against Zach McAllister following a two-out single by Jeff Keppinger (2-for-4, run, RBI) to give the Sox a 3-0 lead.
Keppinger, showing signs of breaking out of a seasonlong slump, drove in a run with a single in the first inning after Alejandro De Aza walked and stole second, the Sox’ first hit with a runner in scoring position in the last five games.
Starter Jose Quintana gave up two runs in five-plus innings, and Nate Jones, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and closer Addison Reed combined for four scoreless innings of relief.
As usual, there was no margin for error for the bullpen.
“It’s tough for anybody,’’ Ventura said of the struggling offense. “Usually you’re going to see two to three guys probably struggle at any time. But when it’s a group and you’re not getting it done consistently, it’s tough on everybody.
“You just have to be patient enough to wait for it.’’
His patience seems to be wearing thin.