OAKLAND, Calif. -- In his first at-bat Friday night against Oakland A's right-hander Bartolo Colon, Chicago White Sox rookie third baseman Conor Gillaspie lined a single to center field in the second inning.
Gillaspie hit the ball hard again in the fifth, flying out to center field, and again in seventh, grounding a shot up the middle that A's second baseman Eric Sogard gloved and turned into a double play.
"He probably had the best at-bats," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Saturday of Gillaspie. "I think what Bart was doing and his approach, (Gillaspie) wasn't trying to do too much. I think that's probably where you get into a little bit of trouble with Bart. You're thinking you're going to hit that first strike he's going to throw. He doesn't necessarily throw that first strike as hard as he can. He kind of locates it, puts a little sink on, so if you're overaggressive you're going to beat it into the ground. He was pretty patient with him, Conor was, and just made sure he got the one he wanted and stayed through the middle. He didn't get a bunch of hits, but the approach and contact is what you're looking for."
The White Sox got only five hits, all singles, against Colon, who shut them out.
"Sometimes it's kind of hard for me to really judge myself," Gillaspie said of his at-bats against Colon. "A lot of these guys have been in the league for so long. I can't say they just throw it in there for me to hit, but I'm probably not seeing the same pitches that (Adam) Dunn and (Paul) Konerko are seeing. As far as last night goes. that's a tough guy to face for right-handers. I don't care who you are. That guy's ball moves as much as anybody I've ever seen.
"I just try to have good at-bats every time. It's not always going to happen. There's games where you don't have good at-bats. There's games where you have good at-bats and they just throw good pitches and you just walk back to the dugout. Every day's a new day. Obviously I think I had a little bit of an advantage just being left-handed. Regardless of how good a hitter anybody is, when you're left-handed it's a little easier to see a guy like that with so much movement. Do my best every day."
The White Sox acquired Gillaspie from the San Francisco Giants in a trade on Feb. 22, 2013, for pitcher Jeff Soptic. He appeared in just 29 career games for the Giants and hit .205, going 9-for-44 with one home run and four RBIs. This year with the White Sox, Gillaspie is hitting .284 (40-for-141) in 47 games with two home runs and eight RBIs.
"Some days I'm pretty pleased, and some days I'm not at all," Gillaspie said. "I guess that's about how everybody is. I've been really working on strengthening the mental side of this game, which I've been just piss-poor at for four or five years, especially when I was out here with San Francisco. Mentally I couldn't do it. Everybody says that mental's a big part of it. It really is. That's a weakness for me, so I really worked hard at being patient and not getting frustrated and just turning the page after every at- at and trying to get them next time."
Easier said than done?
"It is. It's next to impossible some days," Gillaspie said.
Ventura said he's "not really" surprised by Gillaspie's solid start to the season.
"I think early in spring training just watching him go about his business, he has a pretty simple swing," Ventura said. "There's not a lot of movement. It doesn't change very much. It's a pretty direct approach. Again, you could sit there and say, 'Now we're going to go to the next level.' We're just letting him play because there's nothing wrong with what he's doing. I guess I'm a little sensitive about guys, and having seen it over the years, 'Now we're going to take you to the next level.' Well, now it goes in the opposite direction. So let him do what he's good at, let him get confidence with that and go from there. I think defensively he's been improving since we've got him."