Rios, Dunn on White Sox order: Whatever worksContinue reading.
Ventura considering Rios to bat third
With fewer left-handed hitters in his lineup, White Sox manager Robin Ventura might have to spread them around by dropping Adam Dunn from the No. 3 spot to fifth or fourth and moving Alex Rios to third.
Ventura, in town for SoxFest this weekend, talked to reporters during a visit with his wife to Gilda’s Club Chicago, a support community for cancer patients.
“When we start our first game, [Dunn] might be [third], but again we’re kicking it around,” Ventura said. “Maybe Rios starts there. With us not having a lot of left-handed hitters right there, you might have to separate him and De Aza a little bit more than you would normally.”
Barring the acquisition of a left-handed hitter, leadoff man Alejandro De Aza and Dunn could be the only lefties in the lineup. Switch-hitting backup catcher Hector Gimenez and fourth outfielder Dewayne Wise, on days when left fielder Dayan Viciedo and catcher Tyler Flowers are rested, give Ventura some flexibility but not a lot.
That’s not ideal, especially on days when tough right-handers like the Tigers’ Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are pitching. That said, pitchers in that realm are no treat for lefty swingers, either.
“You’d like to have another left-handed hitter,” Ventura said. “In defense of that, I told [general manager] Rick [Hahn], ‘I don’t want a left-handed hitter just to get a left-handed hitter.’ Our right-handed hitters hit lefties pretty good. So looking at somebody, if our right-handed hitter hits right-handed pitchers better than the lefty, I don’t want a lefty just because he’s a lefty.’ Again, in going after somebody and spending money, I don’t want the lefty just because he’s left-handed. He’s got to be the right fit and mean something.”
Outfielder Jason Kubel is out there and seemingly available in a trade, but the Sox would have to move Rios or Viciedo to make room. Rios was probably the team’s most valuable player in 2012 and the Sox value Viciedo’s potential as a middle-of-the-order run producer for years to come.
Dunn, who won’t attend SoxFest this weekend because his wife is expecting the birth of their third child, isn’t a prototype third hitter, anyway, not with a combined .184 batting average over his two seasons with the Sox. His acceptable on-base percentage (.333 in 2012 — the second-lowest of his career) and ability to draw walks made it work, though, for the most part.
Rios has 1,815 career plate appearances batting third, more than twice as many as anywhere else, with a career .280 average, .335 on-base percentage and .434 slugging percentage. Having his speed higher in the order won’t hurt the Sox, either. Rios batted fifth most of last season, behind Paul Konerko.
Dunn’s numbers last season were comparable. He batted only .204 but his 105 walks lifted his on-base percentage. He slugged .468. His plan this season is to swing more earlier in counts to avoid two-strike counts. That would cut down on his walks and strikeouts (222 last season).