Batting sixth fuels power surge by Alejandro De Aza
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter April 7, 2014 10:53PM
DENVER — Alejandro De Aza enjoys hitting home runs as much as the next guy. Perhaps the best thing about the left fielder’s early power surge — he hit three in the season-opening series against the Minnesota Twins — is that it won’t trick him into thinking he’s something he’s not.
“If I think like a home-run hitter, I might try to pull a ball that I should hit the other way,’’ said De Aza, who hit a career-high 17 last season. “Hit the ball where it’s pitched. If it’s 2-0 and I don’t have men on base I might look middle in to drive the ball. It all depends on the situation.’’
De Aza prefers batting sixth to leading off, which he did last year, because he likes driving in runs. He was back in the lineup Monday against the Colorado Rockies after sitting out Sunday in Kansas City. At least for now, it appears he will get most of the playing time in left field ahead of Dayan Viciedo because he bats left-handed, has more speed and covers more ground in left field. He seems sincere saying he doesn’t worry at all about who plays when because it’s something he can’t control.
Kind of like the home runs. When they happen, they happen.
“It is fun [going deep],’’ he said. “I didn’t expect to have three home runs so soon.
“I’ve never hit a lot [of home runs], even as a kid playing in the street [in the Dominican].’’
Jose Abreu, who committed two of the Sox’ six errors through the first six games, has been OK on throws in the dirt, but there is room to improve.
“He reaches out, he gets set too early,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “Especially in the conditions we’re in, the ball moves on him, it’s a little tougher to move your feet and get back in the position to get a good shot at it. It’s not anything that is glaring. It’s one of those where you’re going to have to work at it.’’
Abreu said he’ll improve as he learns more about the way the infielders throw. He already has been fooled when shortstop Alexei Ramirez took some velocity off a routine throw when he didn’t expect it.
“He moves his feet pretty good,’’ Ventura said. “He’s got good hands. It’s just more of setting up too early.’’
The Sox signed 27-year-old right-hander Tommy Hanson, who was released by the Texas Rangers at the end of spring training, to a minor-league contract. Hanson will pitch for Class AAA Charlotte.
Once considered a rising young talent in the Atlanta Braves’ rotation, Hanson has regressed because of shoulder problems. He also suffered a concussion in an auto accident during Braves spring training in 2012.