By Adam Hoge-
U.S. CELLULAR FIELD (CBS) – It’s hard to ignore the fact that Orlando Hudson has never played a single game at third base in his major league career.
But there Hudson was Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field, taking groundball after groundball at third while manager Robin Ventura and general manager Kenny Williams looked on. Every once in a while, third-base coach Joe McEwing would step in and provide instruction. Hudson fielded nearly every ball cleanly and threw accurately to first, although his arm strength is clearly not ideal for the hot corner.
With Brent Morel officially placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, the White Sox are looking for Hudson — who was released last week by the San Diego Padres — to make a late-career switch to third, although time will tell if he plays every day.
“We’ll get him some ground balls and see how comfortable he is there,” Ventura said. “(Third base is) probably more of an option with Gordon at second so he’ll have to get used to playing some third.”
Ventura said he’ll also use Hudson to spell Beckham at second from time-to-time and use him as a pinch runner, but his unfamiliarity with Hudson was exposed when he was asked what he liked about his new infielder.
“There’s some flexibility, he’s played a lot of infield spots,” the manager said.
The reality is that Hudson has not played a lot of infield spots. The only defensive position he has ever played in the majors is second base.
Hudson said the last time he played third was in the minor leagues, but he’s ready to play any position they ask him.
“I don’t know, they might ask me to catch a little bit, they might ask me to pitch a little bit,” Hudson joked.
While it appears the White Sox will attempt to mostly use him at third base, it remains to be seen how often he will play.
Eduardo Escobar started Tuesday night’s game, but that was likely because the White Sox hadn’t had a chance to work Hudson out at third yet. That said, the indication from the White Sox is that he won’t be starting every day to begin with, but he could certainly earn every day playing time if he proves he can play third adequately and provide some offense. Hudson also provides some insurance for Beckham at second base and could be answer in the second spot in the order if Beckham slumps again. Hudson has batted second more than any other spot in the order in his career (423 games).
“Other teams were offering more playing time,” Hudson said, adding that he chose to come to Chicago because of his familiarity with a number of the players.
“I played with Jesse Crain, me and Adam Dunn have known each other since we first signed, same agent. Me and Jake Peavy have been together a long time, so when you are close to guys, it makes you feel more at home to home. Plus, I came up in Toronto with Alex Rios so it’s like home grown here.”
While the White Sox might start Hudson off slowly, the possibility of him seizing a regular spot in the lineup is certainly there. Morel’s back problems and lack of offense have left a void in the lineup. For now, though, the White Sox will continue to send the message that the spot is Morel’s when he is healthy enough to return.
“If he gets healthy and he gets back, I want to get him in there,” Ventura said. “I still believe in him and eventually hopefully that’s going to happen here.”
That’s a big “if” though. Just as big as the door opening for Orlando Hudson.
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