White Sox’ Eduardo Escobar fill-in good
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org April 1, 2012 8:02PM
Updated: May 3, 2012 8:14AM
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Switch-hitting rookie Eduardo Escobar can play three infield positions, and with good speed and a little power, too, the 23-year-old Venezuelan gives manager Robin Ventura more than a late-inning pinch runner and pinch hitter. It’s easy to see Escobar filling in as a starter for third baseman Brent Morel, shortstop Alexei Ramirez and second baseman Gordon Beckham.
“Robin likes him, so I think he likes his energy and his ability to switch- hit, and he can surprise you with his ability to drive the ball,’’ general manager Ken Williams said. “He can bunt, run and move runners. He’s probably going to get his fair share of playing time.’’
Escobar is batting .373 with a home run, two doubles, six RBI and three stolen bases.
“Even if it’s just one day a week, there’s nothing wrong with one of the other guys taking the day off and letting him get some at-bats, and I think Robin is committed to that,” Williams said.
Paul’s well that ends well
Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn have the Sox’ last day in Arizona off Monday. Dunn took advantage by heading to his home in Houston, where the Sox play exhibition games against the Astros on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon.
Dunn batted .255 with team highs in home runs (five), RBI (14) and walks (13). Konerko (.406) had 15 hits in his last 24 at-bats and had a team-high 26 hits.
Viciedo working on it
Dayan Viciedo threw to the wrong base and was 1-for-2 fielding hard-hit line drives hit right at him. The switch from right field to left continues to be a challenge for him.
“It’s definitely a whole lot different than right field,’’ Viciedo said through a translator.
Viciedo, who hit three homers in a minor-league game this spring, hit a Mat Latos changeup inside the left-field foul pole for his first Cactus League homer on Sunday.
“I’ve been working on some things, and I’m feeling better [at the plate],’’ Viciedo said.
Jackson along for ride
Conor Jackson, a Sox minor-league reclamation project who suffered through a sustained bout with valley fever, will accompany the team to Houston along with five other minor-leaguers.
“I’m not using valley fever as a scapegoat for my career,” Jackson said of an infection he described as ‘‘mono on steroids.’’
“I feel like I’ve overcome it strength-wise, and physically I feel fine and ready to go. Now it’s an opportunity to find my stroke again and be a successful major-league baseball player.’’
His best season was 2008 with the Diamondbacks when he batted .300 with 15 homers and 75 RBI. He hasn’t been the same with Oakland and Boston, and he’s banking on Class AAA at-bats to rediscover his swing.
“It’s an opportunity to go down to Charlotte and get some every-day at-bats,’’ said Jackson, who lined a single to right-center in Sunday’s game. “That’s something that I need. The last four years have been a struggle to get my swing back playing every four or five days.’’
A first baseman and outfielder, Jackson took ground balls at third.