White Sox’ Alejandro De Aza carving a simple path to stardom
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com August 10, 2012 10:50PM
Jordan Danks hits a walk-off home run in the ninth, his first homer of the season, to defeat the Athletics on Friday night. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images
ATHLETICS AT SOX
The facts: 6:10, Ch. 9, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.
The pitchers: Travis Blackley (4-3, 3.66 ERA) vs. Francisco Liriano (3-10, 5.03).
Updated: September 12, 2012 6:11AM
White Sox right fielder Alex Rios has enjoyed his close-up view of Alejandro De Aza playing center field. He enjoys watching him hit even more.
‘‘I like his swing,’’ Rios said.
De Aza’s compact cut from the left side has been a big reason for the Sox’ success. The leadoff hitter keeps it clean and simple, which keep him out of prolonged slumps.
‘‘It’s a very, very low-maintenance approach,’’ hitting coach Jeff Manto said. ‘‘There’s not much going on in his swing. His timing mechanism is very small, and his swing is very fluid, so he never has to work on his swing. The only thing he’s working on is what the pitcher has.
‘‘He is much more advanced than I had thought. He has the ability to coach himself.’’
De Aza went into Friday’s game batting .291 and ranked eighth in the American League with 69 runs scored and 20 stolen bases. He has six home runs, which Manto said could rise if De Aza set out to do it.
‘‘Without question,’’ Manto said. ‘‘His swing is so compact. He has fast hands. He’s able to adjust and hit breaking balls. I do think he can hit for some power.
‘‘I would not like for him to reach back and try to do it. I think naturally, he can be a Kenny Lofton type and hit 10 to 15 home runs.’’
This is De Aza’s first full season in the majors. Manto believes the best is yet to come.
‘‘Once he learns how to drag bunt, he’s going to be off the charts,’’ Manto said. ‘‘There won’t be a spot to play him. You won’t be able to play him in or play him back. He has that much potential.’’
If the Sox stick to their rotation as it’s lined up through the end of the season, it so happens that Chris Sale would pitch the first game of the playoffs, should the Sox make it. Sale could have nine starts left, including four on five days’ rest, and would face the Tigers at Detroit on Sept 2 and at home Sept. 13. Both are the last game of a series.
If Sale averages seven innings per start, he’d finish the regular season with 195 innings.
Not looking ahead
Six of the Sox’ last nine games are against the slumping Cleveland Indians. The Tigers play 13 of their last 16 games against the Indians, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals, who own the three worst records in the AL.
Manager Robin Ventura isn’t looking beyond today’s game, as he has maintained all season long, let alone to the end of the season.
‘‘You can’t control anything on the scoreboard anyway, so there’s really no sense of sitting there looking at it every day,’’ he said. ‘‘It will just make you play worse.’’
Left-hander Francisco Liriano starts for the Sox against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night. Liriano struck out 15 A’s as a Twin on July 13 at Target Field but took the loss, allowing three earned runs in eight innings.
The A’s altered their rotation for this weekend, pushing back previously scheduled Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker. Lefty Travis Blackley pitches Saturday, followed by Bartolo Colon.