GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jim Thome, White Sox special assistant to the general manager, Hall of Fame slugger and accomplished designated hitter, has been assigned to keep an eye on Andrew Vaughn this spring training.
And to whisper sweet DH advice in Vaughn’s ear.
The Sox’ DH job has been Vaughn’s to lose this spring, and he has done nothing to do that, showing a polished approach, hitting to all fields and sprinkling two home runs, including a 429-foot bomb, over a .289/.413/.474 hitting line in a team-high 46 plate appearances.
Vaughn hasn’t played above advanced Class A Winston-Salem, but he seems to have the hitting thing down. Manager Tony La Russa has called him “the real deal.”
“He hasn’t made the club yet, but he’s making a very good impression,” La Russa said Saturday.
But being a DH is a different animal, especially for someone who played mostly first base in college and the minor leagues. Enter Thome, a regular presence in uniform during drills and occasionally at games.
“Yeah, that’s the guy I’ve been talking to, going to,” Vaughn said. “He says, ‘Stay warm. Stay ready, got to act like it’s a position.’
“He’s a very awesome man. And so knowledgeable about the game and drills he likes to do. We were working on a drill that he liked when he was with the Indians. Just the way he goes about it, it lifts you up, gives you that positive energy that is pretty special.”
Vaughn says he’s feeling comfortable. Growing speculation that the Sox are working to sign him to a multiyear deal doesn’t seem to be affecting his play.
“You have to do your thing, work on your craft and be yourself,” he said. “I have to be me. Nobody else is me, and I’m nobody else. Doing that is going to help in the long run.”
“You’ve got to be optimistic about him hitting in the big leagues,” La Russa said. “A big advantage for him will be the depth of the lineup. There are some teams hurting for offense . . . and there’s a lot of extra pressure. But here, he’s just got to complement what’s already there.”
The Sox will have four nationally exclusive broadcasts during the season, starting with ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” April 4 in the opening series at the Angels. Fox will broadcast games on June 19 at Houston, July 17 against the Astros and the “Field of Dreams” game from Dyersville, Iowa, on Aug. 12 against the Yankees.
ESPN and FS1 will broadcast five out-of-market games. ESPN’s “Monday Night Baseball” will air the April 5 game at Seattle, and FS1 will broadcast April 17 at Boston, April 24 vs. the Rangers, May 1 vs. the Indians and June 1 at Cleveland. Those five games will air on NBC Sports Chicago.
Sox 6, Indians 2
Engel hurt on running catch
Adam Engel strained his right hamstring making a running catch and throw to home plate and will be further evaluated Sunday. Engel charged in to catch Bradley Zimmer’s short fly to center field and appeared to hurt the leg throwing on the run.
The team’s fourth outfielder and a Gold Glove finalist in 2018, Engel leads the Sox with three Cactus League homers, including two in his previous two games.
Engel walked off the field under his own power but with a slight limp.
Cease: Scoreless but choppy
Dylan Cease worked 3²/³ scoreless innings, posting his second scoreless outing, but he walked three batters and hit two. He needed 73 pitches (45 strikes) to get through it.
Cease was unhappy with the walks, but “it wasn’t like I was shooting the ball all over the place.’’
“I thought I threw some good changeups, and the fastball for the most part was solid,” he said. “And then toward the end, I was pretty locked in with my slider. A couple of bad mistakes kind of made it look a little worse than I think it was.”
A two-out walk to Jose Abreu by Cal Quantrill was followed with four straight hits that produced four runs in the first inning — a Yoan Moncada single, an Eloy Jimenez double, a Yasmani Grandal single and a Zack Collins double.
Moncada also hit his fourth double and has reached base in 12 straight games. Grandal, often catching on one knee as he works his way back from an injury in February, caught five innings in his second game in three days behind the plate. Jimenez also made a sliding catch in left field.
Luis Robert struck out three times and was on the wrong side of six hit-by-pitches in the game, taking one near the hand. The Sox are 6-10-4.
Sox at Diamondbacks, 3:05 p.m. Sunday, Scottsdale, Carlos Rodon vs. Madison Bumgarner.