GLENDALE, Ariz. – If only Dayan Viciedo could play a little center field, the White Sox might have an easier time filling out their 25-man roster for Opening Day.
Viciedo is playing the best of any of the backup outfield candidates, it’s just that the problem is that the White Sox were counting on the backup guy to be able to play center.
The coaching staff is leaning toward opening the season with 12 pitchers instead 11, but that could change if Viciedo’s play warrants a spot. He not only had a three-hit game in Tuesday’s victory over the Rockies, he threw out a runner at the plate. Add that to the runner he threw out at third base last week.
“He’s better than we thought [in the outfield],” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “He’s making the plays, hitting the cutoff man, having great at-bats. The one thing has helped him, he’s showed up to camp in shape. That’s helped him develop his game so he doesn’t have to worry about getting in shape and get on a scale every other day. He’s played there before. He’s making it harder for a lot of people, no doubt.”
It isn’t like playing right field is a foreign concept to the Cuba native. He actually tried all of the outfield positions in Cuba, but right field is most natural for him.
“I practiced and they put me in left field once or twice,” Viciedo said through an interpreter. “One time, I had a crazy manager that put me out in center field.”
Not even Guillen is that crazy, though.
“In only a couple years in baseball, and we moved him from third base to first base, first base to third base; it’s not easy,” Guillen said. “He’s handled it very well. I hope he continues to play like that and hopefully he lets us make the decision of what we’re going to do, and that’s exciting.
Working with coaches Darryl Boston and Devon White appears to have helped.
“The biggest difference is that when you play third base, every pitch you have to be on point because something might be coming toward you,” Viciedo said. “You have to be attention. When you are out in the outfield, you might get a fly ball every once in a while. You might have a dribble coming out there. You are not as intense in your concentration as much as you would be at third.”
It doesn’t mean that he thinks the transition will be an easy one.
“Even though I’ve played that position before, it has been a long time since I played it,” he said. “There might be plays I might be confused on how to really play out. But as I keep playing that position it becomes more natural. There might be a few errors here and there but that should be seen as natural because I’m learning that position again.”