By Bruce Levine —
CHICAGO (CBS) — The White Sox’s defense has been suspect as of late. During this recent downturn, Chicago has played some dicey ball in the field. Furthermore, manager Rick Renteria talked about how his club’s pitching has suffered due to poor fielding.
The White Sox had lost six straight games entering Saturday, when with the help of a clean defense and an exciting ninth inning they pulled out a 5-4 win against the Padres.
Part of the equation has been the poor fielding of first baseman Jose Abreu and shortstop Tim Anderson, the latter of whom was given the weekend off to attend the funeral of his close friend in Alabama. In the meantime, Abreu called a special session of fielding practice for himself Saturday. He asked Renteria and infield/bench coach Joe McEwing to work with him on some of the finer nuances of his play around the first-base bag.
“I disagree with that,” Renteria said when told some scouts believe the team would be better served with Abreu as the designated hitter.
“I see him moving around the field, I see his feet and I see his hands. We were talking with him today about the technique around the base and stretching too soon. Also, believe it or not, the tools that you are using may not quite be the right tool for you. These are just suggestions. Obviously, the man playing out there on the field has to make the decision. He must make a conscious effort to make adjustments. I believe he is.”
The 30-year-old Abreu has made an MLB-leading five errors at first base this season. He was upset with himself for dropping a potential double-play ball Thursday, an error that led to four unearned runs for losing pitcher Derek Holland.
“That play, I failed on catching that throw,” Abreu said through translator Billy Russo. “I take a lot of pride in my defense. I spend as much time on my defense as my offense. I believe both are equally important. As a baseball player, you must take care of all those areas.”
Abreu has been asked to play off the bag in accordance with new defensive schemes. In this setup, teams have the first baseman playing 10 to 12 feet off the line, with the second baseman cheating toward the middle of the diamond against right-hand hitters (almost behind second base). This creates a long sprint to cover the bag on anything hit between Abreu and the pitcher.
“We know all of those metrics exist to help you,” Abreu said “It doesn’t matter where they position you — this is where the coaches tell you we are better off being at. You can’t blame your positioning on the field for an error you make. That is just going to happen.”
Abreu has stated on numerous occasions that he abhors the DH role. Renteria and his staff are aware of his reticence of becoming a hitter only.
The DH role will be spread among various players and serve as a means to get some rest, Renteria has said of the the team’s plan this season.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.