The White Sox are completing a ‘getting to know you’ three-day minicamp for about 15 hitters at their training facilities in Glendale, Ariz., on Thursday.
The Sox have a new hitting coach in Todd Steverson, and as the roster stands now, at least four new players for their Opening Day lineup in 2004 — first baseman Jose Abreu, center fielder Adam Eaton, right fielder Avisail Garcia and third baseman Matt Davidson. All but Garcia attended the minicamp.
Steverson, manager Robin Ventura and front office types were eager to see Abreu, the $68 million slugger from Cuba who has been training in Miami. The first impressions have been favorable.
“Just watching Jose go through his work, the professionalism and the plus-plus power on display in his first couple rounds, he’s a seriouis hitter who goes up there with a plan and certainly has a great deal of ability,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “It’s going to be fun to see how this plays out over the next couple of years.”
The 6-2, 250-pounder, who grips the knob of his bat, has big power but an easy swing. He summarized his approach as simply “trying to have a quality at-bat.” He also possesses a desire to use a good portion of the field, which Steverson likes to see.
“That’s a strong man right there,” Steverson said. “That’s a big man. He has a nice, smooth, compact approach. He didn’t try to do too much with the ball, and the ball was flying off his bat. He has a nice, bright future.”
Abreu revealed that he will begin to use batting gloves in the majors, and that he’ll return to Glendale on Feb. 3, well ahead of the Sox’ first full spring-training workout Feb. 20.
“I wouldn’t say I’m anxious but I want to start,” said Abreu, who turns 27 on Jan. 29. “I want to get it going. That’s why I’m going to come back in on Feb. 3 and get it going here.”
Catcher Josh Phegley and prospects Marcus Semien, Courtney Hawkins, Jared Mitchell, Trayce Thompson and Keenyn Walker also participated.
Davidson, a power hitting first-round draft choice of the Arizona Diamondbacks who recently was ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the D-backs system, was acquired in a trade for closer Addison Reed. The Sox paid a significant price for him, and the third base job appears to be his to lose in spring training. He turns 23 in March.
The 5-8, 185-pound Eaton, 25, will likely start the season in center field and lead off.
“I’ve seen him in his minor league days,” said Steverson, who was the Oakland A’s minor league hitting coordinator and a minor league manager before taking his first job as a major league hitting coach. “He has real simplistic approach, but he’s kind of a pest. He can take you the other way, drive it up the middle or pull you for a homer. He knows how to bunt, he has the whole game. He’s a solid player.”
“Spanky is going to embrace that role of getting on base on the top of the order and setting the table for the rest of the guys behind him,” Hahn said. “Hearing him talk and his enthusiasm for that job, knowing what’s expected of him gets you excited. He has an infectious personality. He’s going to do a lot of good for us at the top of the order for a long time.”