Injuries have given Viciedo, Semien opportunity to step in and step up
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter April 24, 2014 8:25PM
Updated: May 26, 2014 6:37AM
DETROIT — Losing Avisail Garcia to a season-ending shoulder injury April 9 was a major blow for the White Sox but a big break for Dayan Viciedo.
Losing Gordon Beckham to an oblique injury was bad news for the Sox and their second baseman, but it gave Marcus Semien an opportunity to play every day.
Both have made the most of it. Semien, 23, held his own at second base, has shown a flair for dramatic long balls and has driven in 13 runs, the most by a major-league rookie besides teammate Jose Abreu.
Since escaping a platoon situation in left field with Alejandro De Aza and taking over in right field for Garcia, Viciedo has hit like the run producer the Sox are hoping he will be. After going 3-for-4 with a single, double and triple in the Sox’ 7-4 loss Thursday to the Detroit Tigers, Viciedo was leading the American League with a .377 batting average. Since April 13, he is 19-for-43 (.442) with eight extra-base hits.
Viciedo is fine as long as he lays off pitches out of the strike zone. It does him well, too, to take something off his sometimes-ferocious swing.
“He does swing hard,’’ hitting coach Todd Steverson said. “He grew up swinging hard. You’re not going to change his swing.
“But he does have to control his effort. When you get too hard, [your swing] gets too long and then you get too slow. He understands that now.’’
Viciedo, 25, was getting to that “if you don’t have it, maybe it’s time to consider Plan B” stage for the Sox, and most everything he has done lately renews the promise he brought when the Sox signed him out of Cuba in 2008. He did hit 25 home runs and had 78 RBI two years ago — not bad.
“He’s just a good player in general,’’ Steverson said. ‘‘He does have the ability to hit for average. He’s not a blazer, but he can run. Most right-handed strength guys come with strikeouts. There aren’t many 25-homer guys that don’t come with strikeouts. But cutting it down and putting more balls in play helps him to become a more well-rounded player.’’
The Sox (11-12) left Detroit with a split of their four-game series and a 3-4 record on a trip that began in Texas. Considering injuries that sidelined ace Chris Sale, leadoff man and center fielder Adam Eaton and third baseman Conor Gillaspie, it probably could’ve been worse.
“Coming through here, we’re pretty banged up, and with these guys, it still is pretty good,’’ manager Robin Ventura said of the trip. “Hopefully, we can get healthy and go from there.’’
Miguel Cabrera continued to get well against the Sox after a sluggish start, driving in three runs with two singles.
Rajai Davis homered against starter Jose Quintana (1-2), who gave up all three of his runs over his six innings with two outs.
Adam Dunn hit a homer off Max Scherzer (2-1), who gave up seven hits and one walk but held the Sox to two runs in six innings. He struck out 10.
“He’s a Cy Young winner,’’ Dunn said. “He’s another guy with great stuff, and it was the same story for us against Verlander [on Tuesday]: When you get opportunities early, you’ve got to capitalize on them. If not, they don’t get any easier. That’s kind of what happened again today.’’
Dunn also doubled and scored in the eighth inning. Alexei Ramirez, who is batting .352, drove in two runs with a single and a sacrifice fly. After the Sox chipped away against the Tigers’ bullpen to get within a run, Detroit (11-8) scored two in the eighth against Daniel Webb.