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Sox expected big things from Dayan Viciedo, but slugger has yet to step up

KANSAS CITY MO - JUNE 21:  Dayan Viciedo #24 Chicago White Sox hits three-run home run third inning during

KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 21: Dayan Viciedo #24 of the Chicago White Sox hits a three-run home run in the third inning during a game against the against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on June 21, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 163494200

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Updated: July 25, 2013 6:39AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The only bad thing about great expectations is they can result in great disappointment.

High hopes for Dayan Viciedo existed before his first full season when he hit 25 home runs and drove in 78 runs in 2012. Expecting more of the same and then some this season, it’s safe to say the Sox — so far, anyway — have been let down by Viciedo’s production.

“He can be Carlos Lee,’’ first-base coach Daryl Boston said, drawing a comparison to the former Sox outfielder who recently retired with 358 career homers and 1,363 RBI. “Carlos Lee had a 14-year career and made a major impact.’’

Those are what you call lofty standards.

While coming around of late with an eight-game hitting streak that he extended with a 1-for-4 day in the Sox’ 7-6 loss Sunday against the Royals, Viciedo’s impact has been limited. He’s batting 19 points lower than last season at .236, with five homers and 22 RBI. The latter numbers are down partly because he missed three weeks with an oblique injury.

Viciedo’s progress bears watching because of his exceptional talent. The 5-11, 230-pound Cuban left fielder’s raw, line-drive power to all fields and bat speed are treasures. The power potential is something general manager Rick Hahn is banking on as he shapes his team for a future that probably won’t include Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios for more than a year or two.

“His potential is unlimited,’’ said Boston, a former outfielder who works closely with Viciedo as the team’s outfield coach. “He’s a big, strong kid who works hard. The way the ball jumps off his bat . . . he has a chance to be a major contributor.’’

That’s Viciedo’s goal, to be that for a long time in the major leagues.

“I want to stay healthy, have a long career, and I want to put some good numbers out there,’’ Viciedo, 24, said Sunday.

“I’m here for a reason. I believe that. I know I have talent. I have to continue to work hard, get better and know the league better. That’s something that’s going to happen.’’

Hitting coach Jeff Manto has worked with him on using the entire field and finding a consistent swing path that works no matter where’s he’s pitched. The results have paid off with a .303 average with two triples, a homer and seven RBI over his hitting streak.

“I’ve been trying to look middle and the other way, and I feel like when I do that, I can stay inside the ball much better,’’ said Viciedo, who experimented with a front leg lift during spring training but shelved that idea. “Little by little, it’s coming along. It’s starting to feel better, but I’m not where I want to be. It takes time.’’

Viciedo is quiet and unassuming, but he smiles with pride when his strong and accurate arm is talked about. He has five assists after getting 13 last season, which ranked fifth in the American League. Catching the ball does not come as naturally for a guy who came up as a corner infielder.

“He’s still a work in progress,’’ Boston said. “Every day he gets his work in. His biggest area is getting antsy on balls near the fence, but other than that, he throws the ball well. He loves to come up and make plays throwing people out. He’ll be fine, he’s getting better.’’

And that’s the goal.

“I like to be among the best, but I don’t want to be someone who talks about it and brags about it,’’ Viciedo said. “Hopefully others will say that.’’

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