By Bruce Levine–
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — Finding a designated hitter should be a rather simple matter for American League teams. You identify a slugger whose fielding skills have diminished but who still has power potential and the ability to drive in runs.
In the case of the White Sox, it’s not that simple. They’re set to enter the new season without a full-time DH. Instead, manager Rick Renteria plans to use the DH position as a rest spot for regular position players.
In 2016, Avisail Garcia was tasked with filling Chicago’s DH role, but the results were poor. Garcia hit .245 with 12 homers, 51 RBIs and a .692 OPS in 120 games. This season, Garcia will get the chance to play right field regularly.
The White Sox have struggled at the DH spot since Jim Thome was traded late in the 2009 season. They signed Adam Dunn ahead of the 2011 season, only to see him register the lowest qualified batting average (.159) in modern baseball history in his debut season in Chicago. He was an All-Star in 2012 but was a disappointment across his four years with the White Sox. The Adam LaRoche experiment ended poorly as well, with one underwhelming season followed by his abrupt retirement last March.
With the White Sox in full rebuild mode, it appears they’re not concerned about the DH role being handled by one individual. One player who figures to get quite a few at-bats there is 25-year-old Matt Davidson, who after spending two-and-a-half years in the White Sox minor league system broke his foot in his debut with the big league club last June. Davidson has struggled with contact, striking out in 31 percent of his plate appearances in 2014 and 2015 at Triple-A.
After rehab went well on his foot, Davidson is feeling good.
“There is a great opportunity with the team this year,” Davidson said. “I am just thankful for another chance. The emotional part of missing the year was difficult at first. The whole season mostly was a huge positive for me. So I decided not to go to a negative spot.”
Another candidate to serve as the White Sox’s DH is Cody Asche. Past that, it will be position players who are getting a rest on certain days. That will likely be Garcia from time to time.
“Once we cross that bridge and head into the end of spring training, we will determine who best fits into that slot,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Anything is possible. If someone fits a prototypical DH position, it’s possible (to have one player in that role), for sure.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.