De Aza’s bat ahead of his base-running
BY DARYL VAN SSCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org April 11, 2012 9:02PM
Updated: May 13, 2012 10:28AM
CLEVELAND — Alejandro De Aza is adequately filling the bill as a leadoff man through five games, going 6-for-22 (.273) with five runs scored. His two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday, his second in two games, suggests he might supply some welcome pop at the top of the White Sox lineup.
The center fielder’s base-stealing bears watching, however. After getting caught stealing five times in eight attempts during spring training, De Aza is 1-for-2 and was picked off in Texas.
Manager Robin Ventura wants his leadoff man to put pressure on pitchers.
“I’m fine with that,’’ De Aza said. “If I can be aggressive, I will learn to read the pitchers more and get better jumps.’’
De Aza stole 34 bases between the Sox and AAA Charlotte last season but was thrown out 16 times. His minor-league career percentage is a lackluster .691, but he said he expects that to improve with experience.
“You just have to don’t try to steal a base every time you get on,’’ he said. “With experience, you learn a little bit every day.’’
Talkin’ about practice
The Sox took infield practice before the first game of the Indians series Monday, a routine Ventura will likely get into throughout the season. Outfielders are also involved.
‘‘I like doing it when we first get to a city,’’ Ventura said. “I’ve always felt it was necessary. Outfielders throwing to bases, you can’t really do that in batting practice.’’
On most days, infielders field ground balls during BP but outfielders merely shag fly balls.
“You’re asking a guy to throw a ball to home plate, he hasn’t done it at that field,’’ Ventura said. “Unless you actually go out and do it, you might do it once every three weeks or a month. I like them to get out there and do it, be on the field and be comfortable.
“It just seems like you get ready for the game, prepared better.’’
No gripes from Crain
Denied in his bid to be the closer, Jesse Crain is accepting his role as a setup man.
“You have to. What else are you going to do?’’ Crain said. “I’m fine doing what’s best for the team. And it does set up good for the rest of the pen having Hector [Santiago] close. Having me and [Matt] Thornton for the eighth inning and [Addison] Reed and [Will] Ohman for the sixth or seventh. Robin just wants to win and that’s what we’re here to do.’’
Crain shook off an error by Gordon Beckham that put him in an eighth-inning jam and struck out the Indians’ Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana.
Paul Konerko passed Luke Appling for second all-time among White Sox with 3,531 total bases. Frank Thomas (3,949) is first.
◆ A limited number of standing-room tickets are available for the home opener against the Tigers on Friday.