White Sox manager Robin Ventura doesn’t hesitate to count Adam Eaton among the best right fielders in baseball.
Eaton’s 1.9 defensive Wins Above Replacement ranking is third-best and Eaton has gotten both adept and comfortable roving around the right field corner. But after Charlie Tilson sustained a season-ending hamstring injury in his big-league debut against the Tigers and with Austin Jackson already on the disabled list, Eaton was forced to move back into center field.
Eaton – who has played 19 games in center this season – said Friday he will have to make some adjustments in making the move to center after playing 95 games in right.
“Coming back to The Cell, it can be a challenge with the wind and how the ballpark plays,” Eaton said. “So (it’s about) getting out there and getting comfortable again and that’s going to become my focus in (batting practice). I don’t want to jinx myself, but I don’t think there will be a problem going to center.”
Jackson tore his left meniscus on June 9 and isn’t expected to return anytime soon. That leaves Eaton to remain in center while Avisail Garcia takes over in right for the time being.
“Right now, our need is for (Eaton) to go out in in center and he’s accepted it,” Ventura said. That’s what team players do.”
Shortstop Tim Anderson missed Friday’s game against the Orioles with soreness in his left hand after being hit by a pitch Thursday against the Tigers. Anderson said he Thursday he felt like he “dodged a bullet” with the fact the injury wasn’t worse than it was.
“I feel a lot better than I did yesterday,” Anderson said Friday.
Anderson was having difficulty gripping a bat and Ventura didn’t want to risk anything more happening. Ventura said Anderson could return for Saturday’s game.
“The injury is more why (Anderson’s) not playing, not anything else,” Ventura said. “(But) there is a double meaning to it that he can get a little rest and get back after it once he feels good.”
Tilson, Putnam undergo surgery
Tilson underwent season-ending surgery on Thursday to repair his torn left hamstring, the Sox announced Friday. He is expected to be ready for spring training without restrictions. Relief pitcher Zach Putnam underwent surgery to remove bone fragments from his right elbow, but surgeons found that the ligament was in tact. Putnam will rehabilitate in Ann Arbor, Mich., beginning next week and and will be re-evaluated at a later time. Putnam was placed on the disabled list on June 21 with ulnar neuritis in the elbow.
With the Summer Games officially beginning Friday in Rio, Ventura said Thursday he has fond memories of his own Olympic experience. Ventura was part of the 1988 Olympic team that captured a gold medal in Seoul, South Korea.
Baseball hasn’t been a part of the summer games since 2008, but it set to return to the international competition in 2020 when the Olympics move to Tokyo.
“It was great – you’re a 21-year-old kid that gets to play in the Olympics. I think all of us hold a soft spot in our heart for that,” Ventura said. “You win a gold medal and have a lot of friends that you have for life. There’s a lot of stories about things that went going around that was stuff we did that hopefully nobody will ever know about, but it was very funny for us.”
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