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Coincidence? Adam LaRoche more at ease at first base

CHICAGO – Perhaps a future switch from Jose Abreu to Adam LaRoche at first base, and vice versa at designated hitter, will have nothing to do with defense at all.

LaRoche played his first game at first base Saturday and looked more at ease, hitting his first White Sox home run and starting the club on the comeback trail, which ended in a 5-4 victory.

After acquiring the defensive-minded LaRoche on the free-agent market this offseason, the White Sox announced that Abreu still will get the majority of time on defense at first base.

It sounded like a curious decision, but one that made sense when realizing that Abreu wasn’t going to get better with the glove by sitting and watching. And when you have a historic season like Abreu did in his rookie year of 2014, you typically add more to the plate, not less, even if the addition had nothing to do with his impressive bat.

And in the early going, Abreu has looked much improved with the glove.

But with LaRoche in an early offensive funk, it appeared that the longtime National Leaguer needed some days on defense to settle in with his new club. Perhaps more is on the way now.

“He’s seen a few [left-handed pitchers] already; that’s part of it,” manager Robin Ventura said of the early struggles of left-handed hitting LaRoche. “But next couple days, he’ll get some righties. And him playing first base, we’ll get him in there, move around and hopefully shake that off.”

It is a ton to shake off. LaRoche started the season 1-for-14, which was made even more unsightly by the fact that eight of his first 13 outs were via strikeout.

As much as the day in the field might have helped to get LaRoche more involved in the game, it didn’t hurt that he was facing Twins starter Mike Pelfrey. LaRoche was 9-for-13 with six RBIs against Pelfrey entering the game.

The second-inning home run came immediately after the Twins had taken a 4-0 lead and started the White Sox on the comeback trail. In the big picture, it was as if somebody on the White Sox finally put their foot down after an 0-4 start.

“I think it gave everybody a little deep breath,” said starter Jeff Samardzija, who settled down after the run support started to trickle in. “I think the fans, the coaches, the players … when he hit that pitch out, everyone got a little excited and then shoulders relaxed a little bit and we went from there.”