Gillaspie confident he can cope with stress now
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter March 13, 2014 10:42PM
Chicago White Sox's Conor Gillaspie bats against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning during an exhibition baseball game in Glendale, Ariz., Saturday, March 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Updated: April 15, 2014 6:32AM
TEMPE, Ariz. — For Conor Gillaspie, it’s a matter of doing more hitting and less thinking.
Gillaspie batted .245 as the White Sox’ starting third baseman in his first full season in the big leagues last season. Now he believes he has gotten over a huge mental hurdle that he hopes will propel him to a better season in 2014.
‘‘This is a tough game,’’ Gillaspie said. ‘‘The less stressed I get about one day, it’s going to help me in the long run. And I don’t feel quite as stressed about everything this year as I did a little bit last year.’’
Gillaspie was hitting .319 with three homers and five RBI through his first 22 games last year. But he hit .230 in his final 108 games to finish at .245 with 13 homers and 40 RBI.
‘‘There were so many times when I felt pressure last year, which really was something I created in my own mind,’’ Gillaspie said. ‘‘A lot of different thoughts can creep into your mind that are probably false or blown out of proportion by yourself. I’m trying to work on that a little bit — kind of enjoying this a little bit more and not panicking as much as I would in my first year [playing every day].’’
Gillaspie is hitting .250 (6-for-24), but is hitting .300 (6-for-20, with one home run and three RBI) in his last seven games.
‘‘He does a nice job of swinging the bat,’’ manager Robin Ventura said of Gillaspie. ‘‘He knows what he’s doing and from this time last year, he’s just more confident in what he’s doing.’’
He’ll have to earn the starting job, though. Matt Davidson, acquired from the Diamondbacks in the trade that sent closer Addison Reed to Arizona, homered against the Rangers on Tuesday, had a drive caught at the wall and reached on an infield single against the Angels on Thursday.
Defense could make a difference. Gillaspie made 16 errors last season and had the lowest fielding percentage (.943) among American League starting third basemen. So far this spring he has handled 13 chances flawlessly, including a pair of excellent plays on Tuesday.
‘‘The tougher plays are not the ones I usually have issue with. It’s the [routine] ones,’’ Gillaspie said. ‘‘You take a couple of bad games last year I thought I did a really good job on defense. I’m trying to clean up the routine plays a little bit and keep my feet moving a little better. I think that should help.’’