Mark Teahen has bat, versatility to help Sox
By Daryl Van Schouwen firstname.lastname@example.org March 10, 2011 9:52PM
Hot-hitting Mark Teahen is in a battle with Brent Morel to be the White Sox’ starting third baseman. | Ron vesely~Getty Images
Updated: June 14, 2011 6:17AM
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Mark Teahen has the experience and the contract. Brent Morel has the defense and the future.
Whatever becomes of the competition for the White Sox’ starting third-base job, Teahen’s not lying down. As he hunts for the accurate throwing arm that has deserted him in the desert, he has hit the ball as well as any Sox player this spring.
In the Sox’ 7-6 victory Thursday against the Texas Rangers, Teahen went 3-for-5 with a home run, a double and two RBI.
‘‘You just go through the whatevers of getting your arm where you want it coming into spring,’’ said Teahen, who has made four throwing errors in five Cactus League games. ‘‘I’ve had a few off-balance plays where I haven’t made the perfect throw I wanted to make. It’s early; it’s spring. At the same time, it’s important because I am battling for a spot.’’
If the Sox are leaning toward giving the job to Morel because of his glove, Teahen is trying to make them them reassess their thinking because of his bat. The double and homer against Dave Bush, both to the opposite field, raised his spring average to .529 (9-for-17). Morel had three hits in his first 21 at-bats.
‘‘Teahen is swinging the bat really well right now,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said.
‘‘You can’t get too wrapped up with numbers,’’ Teahen said. ‘‘I just want to see the ball well and be comfortable with my mechanics. I am happy with where I am at. Last year, I got off to a terrible start in the spring. This year, I’m just so much more comfortable.’’
The Kansas City Royals’ player of the year in 2006, Teahen has yet to make his current employers comfortable with the three-year, $14 million contract he signed in December 2009. He was limited to 70 games last season after he broke a bone on the tip of his right middle finger.
That he’s making a starting third baseman’s salary and battling a rookie for a job has thrust him under the microscope this spring.
‘‘I don’t overanalyze it,’’ Teahen said. ‘‘Like any other year, I need to prepare as well as I can. Last year not going well and being hurt, it’s kind of a wash. I need to do what I need to do to perform in the way I am asked to perform.’’
Guillen said he wants to choose the starter as soon as possible. If it’s Morel, Teahen can start breaking in his outfielder’s and first baseman’s gloves. He does have more versatility than Morel and a proven bat from the left side.
‘‘I’ve done that [play different positions] in the past,’’ Teahen said. ‘‘I still expect to get plenty of at-bats. But that is in my control, too. I don’t stress about it too much. I mean, I know as long as I am performing, whether it’s at third or somewhere else, I will be in there helping us win games.’’