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Extra Bases: New faces, same Sox offense

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox are getting offense from all corners of the roster, using an entirely new look now to deliver a familiar refrain.

Gordon Beckham led off for the first time Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs, Alejandro De Aza batted second for the first time and Paul Konerko and Adrian Nieto each got their eighth starts.

The result was pretty much what has been happening most of the season, as the White Sox collected 11 hits and rolled to an 8-3 victory over the Cubs to clinch the crosstown series.

The only players Wednesday who were in the same positions that they were on Opening Day were shortstop Alexei Ramirez and first baseman Jose Abreu. Yet this entirely new look had many of the qualities of the offense that has lit up scoreboards.

“There’s guys batting all over the place from where we started on Opening Day, but I think they have the mentality of the next guy up, plug him in and they seem to go,” manager Robin Ventura said. “They’ve got a good feeling of no matter who’s in there. They feel like they’re going to score some runs and they’re going to score late.”

The White Sox have scored a tick above five runs per game, but that has been reduced to three runs per game over the past week. The decline wasn’t all that unexpected. Avisail Garcia was lost for the season in the second week, and Adam Eaton hit the disabled list last week. Conor Gillaspie was just activated from the disabled list, but he still hasn’t played in two weeks.

Yet the White Sox continue to hit, and they continue to score runs while doing an incredible about-face from last season, when they were one of the worse offenses in baseball.

Most hitters have already credited the work of new hitting coach Todd Steverson, whose main objective when spring training started was to get everybody in the lineup to have better strike-zone discipline. His reasoning is that if players aren’t swinging at pitches outside of the zone they will have a better chance at success.

“Speaking from the hitters’ standpoint, the more hits you get and the more you’re doing well up there it just builds you a foundation as the season goes,” said the veteran Konerko, who had a key three-run double Wednesday. “We have a lot of guys who feel good about what they are doing, and it’s a good attack. We feel that, one through nine, we can score runs at any moment.”

Konerko mentioned Steverson’s work specifically Wednesday.

“It’s just a tribute to taking the information he gives us and the approaches he wants us to take, and guys are applying it up and down the lineup,” Konerko said. “They are catering their at-bats to the scoreboard and the situations instead of going up there and having at-bats like spring training at-bats. It’s been good. We’ve been doing that right, and, hopefully, we keep doing that.”