Adam LaRoche sat out a second consecutive night against a left-hander Wednesday, which could become the norm against lefties for the designated hitter mired in a season-long slump.
LaRoche (.213, 10 homers), who at $12 million this season is the third highest paid player on the team behind John Danks and Melky Cabrera, could be forced to more on the bench, even against righties, but manager Robin Ventura wants to give him every chance to regain his confidence with 50 games left in the season.
“Anybody can lose their job, but I know we’re better if he hits and produces like we know he can,’’ Ventura said.
Rookie Trayce Thompson, 4-for-9 with a homer and double going in, started in center field while leadoff man Adam Eaton was at DH Wednesday.
Ventura said LaRoche, who is hitting .173 with no homers and seven RBI in 86 plate appearances against lefties, will “be in there probably Friday’’ against right-hander Kyle Hendricks when the Sox host the Cubs.
LaRoche admits he’s frustrated and is trying to put the first 100 games behind him and start fresh.
“It can be a mental thing,’’ Ventura said.
“There’s got to be some sort of mechanical thing [going on] but I think it also is tied mentally, being confident, that feeling you want to have.’’
Swinging for the bullpen
White Sox relief pitchers (and Carlos Rodon) were permitted to take early batting practice Wednesday. Zach Duke, Rodon and David Robertson had the best-looking swings, but Dan Jennings ruled the day with two home runs. Jake Petricka also took his hacks.
“They’ve been fighting for that all year so they got to have a little fun today,’’ Ventura said.
“It was a blast,’’ said Nate Jones, who put one over the fence.
Told that Robertson, Duke and Rodon looked the part, Jones said, “Oh, come on. I hit a taco out there.’’
Robertson, a shortstop and pitcher in high school, and Duke – who homered twice for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011 – each hit one.
Asked if saw any swings that could be useful in game conditions, Ventura did not hesitate.
“No. Not a one,’’ he said.
Let the good times roll
Melky Cabrera’s resurgence after a slow start has allowed him to spread his wings as a clubhouse leader. Cabrera has excelled as keeping things loose.
“He seems to be in the middle of that,’’ Ventura said.
Ventura likes that Cabrera, whose English is limited, doesn’t leave anybody out.
“He has a way of including everybody and that’s the important part,” Ventura said. “When a guy keeps people loose it’s team-wide and guys gravitate toward him when he does stuff. And he has a great sense of timing with it too, which is fun to see.’’
Shark vs. the Cubs
Jeff Samardzija, who hasn’t pitched into the fifth inning in his last two starts, will start Friday when the Sox host the Cubs in their weekend series. Ventura wouldn’t be surprised if facing his former team provides a spark for the Shark.
“I would hope so, I would hope so,’’ Ventura said. “It can help.’’
Samardzija did not pitch when the Sox won two of three games at Wrigley Field in mid-July.
“I would expect him to be secretly looking forward to it,’’ Ventura said.
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