Conor Gillaspie weathers wind, delivers with bat, glove
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org April 6, 2013 8:46PM
Chicago White Sox Conor Gillaspie hits a triple during the fifth inning at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Ill., on Saturday, April 6, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 8, 2013 7:07AM
Third baseman Conor Gillaspie had the perfect conditions Saturday for his first start for the White Sox, with the wind at U.S. Cellular Field playing havoc with balls.
‘‘He wants to be a storm chaser, so it was perfect,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.
He was a game-changer this time, delivering a key triple and a single, scoring twice and adding a sparkling inning-ending double play in the fifth inning to highlight a 4-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners and ace Felix Hernandez.
‘‘My passion is weather,’’ Gillaspie said. ‘‘It’s something I’ve always been interested it. That might be in the top 10 windiest games I’ve ever played in.’’
A southwest wind gust above 25 mph was a factor all day. It played a role in boosting Michael Saunders’ two-run homer in the eighth against Matt Thornton.
‘‘You couldn’t predict what the ball would do,’’ said Sox right fielder Alex Rios, who also homered. ‘‘You just hoped to put a good swing on the ball and that it falls.’’
Ventura changed the lineup for a day game after a night game, starting Gillaspie, catcher Hector Gimenez and Jeff Keppinger, who played first base.
‘‘I was kind of nervous,’’ said Gillaspie, acquired from the San Francisco Giants. ‘‘You can’t miss pitches against a guy like [Hernandez]. I got a little lucky and had some pitches I didn’t miss.’’
The triple came leading off the fifth after Gillaspie helped end a Mariners threat in the top of the inning. He grabbed Brendan Ryan’s grounder over the third-base bag, stepped on the bag to force Justin Smoak and threw out Ryan.
Ventura said Gillaspie is likely to play again Sunday.
‘‘He’s a tough kid. He plays hard,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘He has a compact swing with some pop, too.’’