Eaton had no idea he annoyed people in Diamondbacks’ clubhouse
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter February 25, 2014 9:31PM
Updated: February 26, 2014 2:26AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Less than two weeks into camp, Adam Eaton is beginning to feel like a member of the White Sox. It’s not difficult for the Sox to get a feel for him.
The Sox’ new center fielder enters the room with a smile, a full tank of fuel and an eagerness to get on the field every day that Sox management hopes is infectious.
And if that happens to rub some the wrong way, well, the Sox will have to deal with it.
That notion only comes to mind because of an unnamed Arizona Diamondback who said Eaton did just that with the D-backs last season.
Here’s an initial observation of Eaton: He’s a happy guy and a talker who expresses passion for his job. If that’s annoying, oh, well.
Eaton has made friends quickly on the Sox. Accepting an invitation from Paul Konerko to hit at his home during the offseason was a good start.
“You spend time with him, you spend time with the whole organization,’’ Eaton said.
New teammates have asked him about the Diamondbacks thing, wondering what that was all about.
“I wasn’t really sure, to be honest,’’ Eaton said. “I thought I had a good rapport with all those guys. Usually, there’s one teammate who rubs you the wrong way, but that guy happened to speak up.
“I’m getting along great with all these guys, and I thought the same thing with the Diamondbacks, I really did. I didn’t think I rubbed people the wrong way. I am energetic, and I love to play the game, and I don’t think I need to change that. Bring that kid mentality to the game. It’s fun. I hate that I offended somebody in the clubhouse. If I knew who it was, I would definitely apologize and talk to him to try to be a better teammate.’’
A year ago, Eaton was held in high regard by the Diamondbacks, who viewed him as their center fielder and leadoff man of the future after he had batted .355 over three minor-league seasons.
But an elbow injury sidelined him, and A.J. Pollock stepped in and played so well that he was named the team’s rookie of the year. Meanwhile, Eaton batted .252 when he got back, and the Diamondbacks felt comfortable trading him in a three-way deal that sent Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels and brought Mark Trumbo to Arizona.
The Sox, looking for upgrades in center and in the leadoff spot and wanting to inject some life in the lineup, were delighted to get Eaton.
“Guys like him have been able to raise the intensity and the level of other people in the lineup, and hopefully he can do that,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.
Eaton reached on a drag-bunt single during the first intrasquad game Tuesday. That’s what leadoff guys do.
“I’m excited to see a guy who wants to be a true leadoff hitter, that type of role,’’ Konerko said. “We haven’t had that all the time. We’ve had spurts of it here and there with some guys. I’ve seen him the last couple of springs with the Diamondbacks and was really impressed.’’
Eaton said he’s getting acclimated to his teammates on a personal basis, but the biggest thing is getting to know them on the field. The intrasquad game was a good first step.
“It’s so much more than personalities; you want to feel each other out on the field, even pitchers how they pitch,’’ he said Tuesday. “Once I get more [acclimated] in the field with them and how guys are going to act and go after a ball, how we communicate with each other, with the infielders, how pitchers attack hitters, I’ll feel comfortable.’’