Alex Rios set to step off rollercoaster

If history is any indication, Alex Rios is in line for a down season in 2013. Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Chicago White Sox outfielder Alex Rios figures to have a solid foundation beneath him when the upcoming season begins, and not just because he is getting married later this month.

Rios, who has been known for alternating good seasons with below average ones, would be set for a dip in production if past trends hold true again.

He was productive this past season, struggled in 2011 and managed to do in 2010 what he couldn't quite muster in 2009.

The White Sox's belief that Rios will be solid again in 2013 isn't just based on the hope that the soon-to-be 32-year-old can buck recent trends.

"There were mechanical adjustments made and clear differences in his approach that we, and he, feels contributed to his success," general manager Rick Hahn said. "It's stuff that is easily for him to maintain and for us to identify and correct if he starts drifting away from that."

While Hahn is spending time at the winter meetings this week looking to improve the current roster, any changes will be rendered moot if the returning talent fails to deliver at career norms.

What could make things easier for Rios is last year's move from center field to right. The less demanding position should give him that much more opportunity to focus on maintaining his swing.

Rios batted .304 this past season with an .850 OPS that was more in line with the kind of on-base and slugging numbers he delivered early in his tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays that led to the seven-year, $69.8 million deal he signed before the 2008 season.

There was also a career-best 91 RBIs to go along with 93 runs scored, his most since crossing the plate 114 times in 2007.

The White Sox don't figure to be able to match the firepower of the Detroit Tigers, but solid pitching and a lack of regression from anybody in the middle of the order would help the White Sox to be competitive as the American League Central race plays out.

"I know (Rios) is very comfortable with (manager) Robin (Ventura), (hitting coach) Jeff Manto and our coaching staff, and likes being here," Hahn said. "I don't have a crystal ball to know what his season will look like, but I know we're dealing with a comfortable player who has made adjustments and changed his approach and had success because of that. There's reason to believe his success will continue."