White Sox’ outfield appears set
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org February 29, 2012 9:22PM
Sox manager Robin Ventura confirmed that it will be Dayan Viciedo in left, Alejandro De Aza in center and Alex Rios in right. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: April 2, 2012 9:52AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Manager Robin Ventura was more direct about his outfield Wednesday, saying Dayan Viciedo in left, Alejandro De Aza in center and Alex Rios in right.
“Viciedo is a good-enough athlete to play left and right,’’ Ventura said.
Rios, whose subpar performance in 2011 came in center as well as at bat, was a regular right fielder in Toronto.
Kosuke Fukudome can play right and center, and is a more likely platoon candidate with Rios, so Ventura’s alignment makes more sense from that standpoint, too.
Simulate the ninth
Even though left-hander Matt Thornton was the designated closer last spring, manager Ozzie Guillen didn’t pitch him in the ninth inning of Cactus League games. Late innings, especially in the early weeks, are normally played by prospects.
But Ventura said Thornton and Jesse Crain, who are candidates to replace Sergio Santos as the closer, will pitch in the ninth this spring.
“I want him getting used to that,’’ Ventura said. “I think him and Jesse are doing that, to make sure that’s the feeling when they get into a game, that’s the inning. And I think that’s important.
“I’d rather him face some major-league hitters. But later [in the spring], you do it.”
Thornton’s first ninth-inning action last year came at Kansas City in the second series on April 6. He blew the save.
PK high on Beckham
Paul Konerko believes Gordon Beckham will bounce back after a disappointing 2011.
“I know where he’s at in his head; it’s in a good place,’’ Konerko said. “I think he’s going to have a big year and is ready to take that step. He didn’t really get to learn a lot in the minor leagues.’’
Because Beckham came up so quickly, he never learned to deal with failure.
“That takes time, to get those things mapped out and figured out,’’ Konerko said, ‘‘and he unfortunately had to do it on the biggest stage the game has. So he’s at that point now where he’s got that stuff hammered down. It’s kind of like his rookie year again.’’
Ventura has talked up left-hander Chris Sale’s stuff for days.
“His off-speed pitches are something else,’’ Ventura said. “I don’t know many that I’ve seen that are better as far as the velocity and change to his off-speed pitch.’’
Sale said his new routine as a starter is suiting him well, and he’s holding nothing back right now even though it’s early.
“At some point, you [rein him in],’’ Ventura said, “but at this point, I’d rather have him pitch. If he needs to be a starter, let him go.’’
Ventura isn’t saying who the first three pitchers are in the rotation for spring games, which begin Monday against the Dodgers. John Danks, Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd are fairly good bets with Sale and Philip Humber following.
The Red Sox are banning alcohol in the clubhouse under manager Bobby Valentine. The White Sox aren’t.
“Bobby has always done that, even when I played for him with the Mets,’’ Ventura said. “I don’t see it as him changing it. For us, right now we’re fine. If it needs to change, I’ll change it.”