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Lillibridge must prove he’s an every-day player

Updated: June 20, 2011 3:01PM

PHOENIX — Brent Lillibridge has been an impact player for the White Sox. He’d receive team MVP votes if a tally were taken today.

But there he was again Friday, on the White Sox’ bench for the third consecutive game on the road trip.

“I’m not 100 percent happy not playing [every day], but that’s the role I’m in, and I have to continue to prove I can play when I’m in there and be consistent,’’ Lillibridge said. “That’s what they’re looking for — consistency.

“My goal is to be an every-day player. There is a lot more money in that,’’ he said with a smile.

Lillibridge is batting .273 with seven home runs and 12 RBI. But in his last seven games, he’s 1-for-15.

There’s a debate about whether Lillibridge would be better for the Sox in his role as a platoon player or playing every day. As Juan Pierre putters around in left field and in the leadoff spot — where he has stopped stealing bases — some wouldn’t mind seeing Lillibridge in left.

“I’ve had to dig myself out of a hole I created two years ago when I first made the team and didn’t look good in front of Ozzie [Guillen] and Kenny [Williams],’’ Lillibridge said. “I didn’t show I had the ability to hit in the big leagues.

Said Guillen: “We gave him a chance early last year, and he couldn’t do it. Can the kid play every day? He has to show us.’’

In his platoon role spelling Carlos Quentin in right, Alex Rios in center and Pierre in left, Lillibridge has been a star, making huge tabloid headlines in New York with game-saving catches in the ninth inning and one last week at U.S. Cellular Field to prevent a home run, to name a few.

“I don’t get to set up the lineups; I don’t decide when I play,’’ Lillibridge said. “Just be patient and perform when I get a chance to start, and focus on what I can do for the team in a particular game. In games I’ve struggled in, I’ve found a way with walks, getting on base or obviously defense — showing I can contribute when things don’t go right.’’

“He’s matured as a player,’’ Guillen said, “and he’s a way better player than he was the last couple of years. Yes, he is. He’s a better hitter, and he always played good defense in the outfield.

“Can he show us he can play every day? Well, that will be nice.’’

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