All signs point to Tyler Saladino sticking around. Called up by the White Sox before the weekend series to provide needed balance and trust at third base, the 25-year-old rookie filled the bill by making all the plays and right decisions.
He even contributed a couple of hits, including an RBI triple in the first inning Saturday and a single on Sunday, one of two Sox hits against Jake Arrieta.
Conor Gillaspie has struggled defensively at third and is hitting .237. Gordon Beckham, signed during the offseason to be back up at three positions, has been more than adequate with the glove at third but saw his average (.195) plummet by the day when he was given a chance to play regularly.
The Sox’ recent run of improved play (they’ve won nine of 12) has coincided with improved defense, and Saladino has added a dash of stability to the infield.
When Saladino was brought up instead of a 12th pitcher for the Cubs series after right-hander Scott Carroll was optioned to AAA Charlotte Thursday, some thought he was here for the weekend and maybe one game after the All-Star break.
”You make adjustments, you try to bring a guy in you think can infuse something you need to improve that,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “Defensively that’s where we felt we needed to go. The pitchers are pitching well and if you get a ground ball, you want the play made.
“The biggest thing is it would almost deflate everything that’s going on is if you’re making errors and letting guys on and not helping those guys out because they are pitching so well.’’
If Saladino stays, a logjam of infielders with Gillaspie, Beckham and Emilio Bonifacio (.149) also in the mix would have to be thinned out. Shortstop is Saladino’s primary position, and he might be a consideration as the Sox look ahead with this possibly being Alexei Ramirez’ final year with the Sox. Ramirez, 33, has a $10 million club option in his contract for 2016.
A day of rest for Abreu
Jose Abreu was given the day off, which gives him five days to rest sore legs and the index finger on his right hand that has bothered him off and on. With tough right-hander Jake Arrieta pitching, it was a good day to play left-handed hitting Adam LaRoche at first.
Abreu, who is on a 13-game hitting streak, is batting .296 with 14 home runs. He had 26 homers after the Sox’ 86th game last season.
“The power numbers haven’ been there,’’ Ventura said. “He’s had a couple issues, I think the hand is probably most of it. But he’s still able to grind out an at-bat, give you a tough at-bat, get a hit.’’
Q is for quality, Quintana
Jose Quintana notched his ninth consecutive quality start. After giving up two runs in the first, he settled in and, aside from serving up an 0-2 pitch on Arrieta’s first career homer, was strong with nine strikeouts and no walks. Quintana is 2-4 with a 2.82 ERA during that run and has pitched to a 2.56 ERA in his last seven road starts.
A Royal return
The Sox come back after the break to host the Kansas City Royals, starting with a day-night doubleheader Friday at U.S. Cellular Field on 2005 World Series Reunion Weekend. Jeff Samardzija (day) and John Danks (night) will start Friday, followed by Quintana Saturday. Chris Sale will likely start Sunday.