If you are a Chicago White Sox fan, it’s no secret to anyone how bad outfielder Dayan Viciedo looks this spring. In 40 at-bats, he has just four hits and has yet to hit a home run. He is a guy who is being counted on this season to hit in the middle of the White Sox order and provide power. The last two seasons in Charlotte (triple-A) he hit a total of 40 home runs and saw his average climb from .274 to .296. Last season with the White Sox, he wasn’t overly impressive (.255 average and one homer in 102 at bats) but his bat was needed in the majors at the time. Based on minor league stats, it is easy to say he should be in the lineup on opening day, but there are a couple of reasons why there is no need to rush.
The White Sox signed Kosuke Fukudome right before spring training to add depth to the an outfield full of unknowns. Every MLB lineup wants to have left-handed bats and Fukudome gives you that. Also he is known for playing his best ball early in the season and being terrible towards the end. Last season he hit .383 in the month of April. For his career in April, he is a .338 hitter, so playing time for him at the beginning of the season wouldn’t hurt the White Sox and first-year manager Robin Ventura in any way.
Another player of interest on the roster is Brent Lillibridge. He became a fan-favorite when given extended playing time. And when his number was called because of the struggles of Alex Rios and Adam Dunn, he went from a light-hitting, fly-weight utility man into a slugging, Gold Glove-caliber outfielder. He went through two stretches during the season where he displayed big power, was a regular on ESPN’s Web Gems and even had me question whether he is a legit starter in the majors (one of my favorite articles I’ve ever written). Even when his bat came back down to earth, he still remained a excellent defender and a useful base runner. Simply put, he always did something to help his team win.
With Viciedo originally penciled in to start as the opening day left fielder, both men would make serviceable platoon partners while “Tank” gets his game together in the minors. After about a month or two of Viciedo crushing inferior pitching and Fukudome and Lillibridge cooling off, bring him up and see what he can do. Also, it’s possible by that time Ventura may realize either Rios or Alejandro De Aza isn’t worth playing everyday.
No matter how much the White Sox potentially play above expectations, there is no way this roster wins a World Series this season. So it makes sense for Ventura and general manager Kenny Williams to explore every option and see what each player brings to the table. The only player on the roster you expect consistency from is Paul Konerko which means there is no reason to feel everything this season will go according to plan. It’s never a bad thing to have too many options.