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Adam Eaton has 11 stolen bases in 15 attempts this season. He was 15-for-24 stealing last year. AP

Eaton the base stealer still a work in progress

SHARE Eaton the base stealer still a work in progress
SHARE Eaton the base stealer still a work in progress

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Having Jose Abreu batting behind him isn’t going to help Adam Eaton satisfy his desire to steal more bases. With the White Sox’ best hitter batting second again, Eaton will be required to stay put more than ever.

To his credit, Eaton gets it.

‘‘I’m in scoring position when I’m on deck and he’s in the hole,’’ he said.

Eaton, who had 11 stolen bases in 15 attempts going into the Sox’ game Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels, thinks he can steal 25 or 30 bases and would like more freedom to run. But manager Robin Ventura doesn’t let him — or anybody else on the Sox — run on their own.

‘‘The system we’re using — let’s just say it’s not [always] on me,’’ Eaton said of his modest stolen-base total.

Eaton likely is part of that system because he was caught nine times in 24 attempts last season, an unsightly percentage. His success rate has been much better this season, so perhaps he’s building more trust with Ventura.

Ventura allowed this much: Eaton has the tools to be a bigger threat.

‘‘He’s a guy who needs to evolve to be able to do that,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘He definitely has the speed to do that, but you have to be comfortable doing it.’’

Sox baserunners are only free to steal when they are given the green light. Eaton won’t run just because he has it, but he suggested he probably would operate better if he were allowed more freedom. He’d like to take more shots at stealing third, too.

Ventura and bench coach Mark Parent said they want to see Eaton steal with more confidence and not tip his hand when he is going.

‘‘You see [pitchers] slide-stepping on him,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘He creates a lot of attention over there with throws over. He does have the ability, but he hasn’t really caught on to going when they don’t slide-step and things like that. There’s still work to do there.’’

Eaton stole 34 and 44 bases in the minors in 2011 and 2012 (he was caught a combined 25 times in those seasons), but he is the first to say the level of difficulty is much higher in the majors. Outs are precious, especially on a Sox team struggling to score, so the price of failure on a steal attempt is greater.

Being a bigger threat on the bases would be a nice addition to Eaton’s new offensive arsenal, which has featured 10 homers after he hit only one last season.

After a poor start, Eaton is rounding his numbers into more acceptable territory. He’s hitting .322 with 18 runs scored and a .424 on-base percentage in his last 22 games. So the bases are there for the taking.

‘‘He has all the ability in the world to steal more bases,’’ Parent said. ‘‘It’s a matter of confidence. You can’t be afraid to make an out. If the manager gives you the green light, it’s up to you to get the best jump you can and steal the base. It’s up to him to get better jumps. He gets the green light quite a bit. He just has to be more confident.’’

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