Spring Training Notes from a Non-Scout

Every spring I make my way down to Phoenix to kick back and enhance my anticipation of the upcoming baseball season by following the White Sox around the valley for a week. It tends to be my most enjoyable week of the year, as I shed all responsibilities and immerse myself completely in baseball. It’s that simple. I’m no scout, the things I notice may have merit, but likely less often than a trained and paid individual. There are things to notice, though, and during a time of year where stats mean very little there are advantages to getting an up close look at the action. 

 Butts. // Credit: Ami Prindiville

Butts. // Credit: Ami Prindiville

Split squads and off-days often hinder the sample size of any particular player’s appearances but of the 6 games viewed Avisail Garcia seemed to be a part of them. I’ve high hopes for Avisail’s future with the Sox and had somehow already forgotten that he’s only 22-years-old. Something I didn’t notice in his 2 months on the south side last season was him acting like a 22-year-old. It was clear to me on many occasions around the Glendale area. Lots of chumming, lots of pats on the butt, and a seemingly infinite amount of smiles. He was no perpetually long-faced Conor Gillaspie in 2013, but the loose attitude appears to be new. Maybe it’s just comfort in the clubhouse, or maybe rumors of his extra-curricular activities leading to his departure from Detroit were weighing on him. I’m curious to see how that translates to his play over the long season as his spring numbers haven’t looked to benefit from his new attitude.

As long as we’re talking about attitude, Adam Eaton looks to be what he’s been sold as. Everything about him says grinder. Even to me, and I hate that word. From a numbers standpoint, he’s had a solid March. Even if we can’t count on those numbers to continue at the same rate, we can count on the same playing style. It’s a playing style that tends to accrue Chicago area fans in a hurry, as Aaron Rowand can attest to. The new center fielder, who showed up to the ballpark with a beard, a fu Manchu, a plain mustache, and then clean shaven in successive days took the time each day on his way out of Camelback to throw pieces of candy to kids in the stands.  People are going to latch onto Adam Eaton.

From the moment he was signed I was anticipating the first time I’d be able to watch Jose Abreu hit. The power has been spoken about in mythical terms and the approach was getting all the ink in the early going of spring. Both were on display during my viewings. A lot of back up the middle, go-with-the-pitch contact mixed in with some crowd-pleasing dingers. I now move to the point where I am anticipating being able to watch the man hit every day over the next 6 months.

Like many fans, I was entering the new season with my faith level in Viciedo pretty close to bottomed out. He took inoffensive at-bats though, with what seemed like an emphasis on contact. And in a short sample his strikeout rate is slightly lower than anything we’ve seen from him at the big league level, where he’s yet to get under 20%. It’s also a stretch to consider Spring Training on par with day-to-day big league action. In the meantime, he’s still an adventure in left field and he’s yet to go yard.

Jordan Danks did everything he could to try and force his way onto the roster hitting for average and launching 5 spring home runs in 45 plate appearances including an opposite field shot to left-center. Danks did not compromise his high strikeout nature for his spring surge, though it’s doubtful that it worked against him. The seemingly set platoons at LF and DH make for a crowded bench without room for the extra outfielder so it came as no surprise when it was announced that Danks would not be joining the team in Chicago at the end of the month.

Adam Dunn is sad to watch. If memory serves me he has not had a good spring while in the White Sox uniform. Depending on where you set the bar he’s never had a good season while in the White Sox uniform. There is nothing to indicate anything will change there.

I had the pleasure of seeing Jose Quintana go 0.0 innings while allowing 9 runs. A feat I’ve never seen before and is impressive in its uniqueness.  Though if Rick Hahn is to be believed, it’s not entirely Jose’s fault. And if the money involved in his new contract is to be believed, the White Sox aren’t too concerned with it. Neither am I. In the interest of balance he did come out his next go-round and look every bit the guy that prompted the organization to put out such an offer.

All in all, I come back north encouraged. Promise exists for this team. To compete in 2014 they’ll have to have a whole lot break just right for them but it’s not impossible. More realistically seeing the pieces come together bit by bit make me feel better about the future beyond 2014. It’s nice to know that in the meantime there will be a team on the field that is fun to watch and will manage to win its share of games.

 

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