Semien's versatility keeps him on roster

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox rewarded infielder Marcus Semien for his solid play over the season’s first five weeks by keeping him on the roster, even as third baseman Conor Gillaspie returned from the disabled list Wednesday.

The White Sox cleared space for Gillaspie by sending outfielder Jordan Danks back to Triple-A Charlotte. That plane ticket could have belonged to Semien, but his ability to play multiple infield positions, as well as his knack for clutch hitting, allowed him to stay.

Now comes the challenge of finding enough playing time that will allow Semien, Gillaspie and second baseman Gordon Beckham to stay fresh and in an offensive groove.

“I think there’s enough [at-bats] for [Semien] to be in the mix and get him some opportunities to still be up here and help us win,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I think he deserves to be up here the way he’s been playing. We’ll find a way to play him.”

The White Sox could have sent Semien down to make sure he is playing every day and then recalled him as soon as the need arose. He does have things he still needs to work on, like his American League-leading 45 strikeouts heading in to play Wednesday. That’s five more than the next closest player.

But the White Sox felt his pluses far outweighed the minuses. In addition to clutch hitting and defense, Semien has been adept at going deep into counts to help drive up opponents’ pitch counts.

Gillaspie found himself on the bench upon his return as Semien was in the lineup at third base. That move was based on the fact that Gillaspie bats from the left side and the Cubs had a left-handed starter in Travis Wood.

Gillaspie, who was out with a bruised hand, said he feels better than he has in the last month and a half.

“It wasn’t necessarily one thing in particular that put me on the DL,” Gillaspie said. “It was just kind of a combination of three to four weeks of getting jammed constantly. Hopefully we can get some weather similar to what we have today from here on out. I think that’s going to play a big part in keeping the stinging down when I do hit it.”

Gillaspie, who was the No. 3 hitter in the lineup 10 times in the early part of the season, was still batting .302 with 12 RBIs while hitting with a sore hand. But he didn’t have any home runs.

“I’m excited to return,” he said. “I was playing most of the time, so I didn’t have time to follow [the White Sox] too closely. But I’m really excited to be back out there and start playing and start working again.

“It’s been kind of a long two weeks, so it’s definitely good to be back here and see everybody.”