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Sox rookie Semien out to prove himself

Chicago White Sox third baseman Marcus Semien throws out New York Yankees' Derek Jeter during first inning baseball game Wednesday

Chicago White Sox third baseman Marcus Semien throws out New York Yankees' Derek Jeter during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

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Updated: September 12, 2013 12:20AM



As Marcus Semien gets his first look at the big leagues, White Sox management is watching him closely as it formulates a plan for 2014.

Semien has a chance to be the Sox’ regular third baseman. He has 17 games left to show what he can do with the big club. Then he’ll see action in the Arizona Fall League. After that, spring training.

“I’m starting to see the pace of the big-league game is a little faster,’’ said Semien, who lined out hard to left and struck out twice in the Sox’ 1-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. “I’ve been working hard every day in early work, trying to adjust as fast as I can here. They’ve put me in different situations just to see how I react to it.’’

Semien has more power and speed than left-handed-hitting rookie third baseman Conor Gillaspie, a .254 hitter with 12 homers. He fits the mold of a prototype corner infielder because of his power potential.

A natural shortstop, Semien also played second base in the minors and recently saw increased action at third.

“I think he’s going to hit, and he also has the ability to play all three positions,’’ said Sox assistant general manager and former farm director Buddy Bell. “He has a legitimate chance to help us next year. Whether or not it’s out of spring training, I don’t know. I think he’s capable.’’

Semien hit .284 with 32 doubles, six triples, 19 homers and 66 RBI in 137 games between Class AA Birmingham (where he was the most valuable player of the Southern League) and Class AAA Charlotte. Bell likes the tools and makeup of Semien, a 2011 sixth-round draft pick from Cal. He seems poised, quiet and unaffected by it all.

“I’ve always tried to be as calm as I can be on the field,’’ Semien said. “You have to be confident.’’

Semien is 2-for-11 with an RBI and six strikeouts, hardly enough of a sample size to judge him.

“His [minor-league] numbers tell you he knows what he’s doing,’’ hitting coach Jeff Manto said. “His swing looks low-maintenance. Having him in the minors, you could see all the kid needed was experience.’’

The transition to third base has been smooth, and he’s becoming more comfortable.

“Very athletic, his positioning was good [in the minors], really read hops well and is able to use one hand,’’ Bell said.

It’s early, but teammate Gordon Beckham, who made the transition to third base as a rookie, likes what he sees in Semien, who’ll turn 23 on Tuesday.

“He’s quiet. Goes about his business,’’ Beckham said. “He doesn’t strike me as a person that is going out of his lane, so to speak. It looks like he’s learning and listening.’’

The loss dropped the Sox to 58-87. They need to finish 5-12 to avoid 100 losses.

Jose Quintana lowered his ERA to 3.56 with seven scoreless innings but couldn’t improve on his 7-6 record. Omar Infante’s RBI single in the seventh ended Matt Lindstrom’s streak of 12 scoreless appearances.

Leury Garcia, who like Semien is getting a look, was 3-for-4 with two stolen bases. He had two infield hits and made two nice plays at second base. An open blister on his left hand forced the switch hitter to bat right-handed.

That was the extent of the good for the Sox. Anibal Sanchez (14-7) struck out 10 and gave up five hits in 71/3 innings. Adam Dunn struck out in each of his four at-bats, and Paul Konerko (0-for-4) hit into a double play and struck out twice.

Alexei Ramirez made his 22nd error, the most of any shortstop in baseball.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @CST_soxvan



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