BALTIMORE - There’s a big difference in how players approach starts and pinch-hitting and J.B. Shuck is confident he has both roles down.
The outfielder can get into more of a routine as a starter, which he did again in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles as he filled in again for injured Avisail Garcia. But Shuck thinks his compact swing also allows him to be ready if the White Sox need him off the bench. Knowing the two roles has Shuck confident no matter what the White Sox ask.
“Just a little bit different type of work,” Shuck said. “You’re getting ready for the starter. You get into the game and you have different situational hitting. You have a chance to, maybe first at-bat, work the count, maybe find a way to get a runner over. When you’re pinch hitting, it’s usually guys on trying to drive in runs late in the game.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura likes that Shuck knows how to ready himself for a start or a pinch-hit. Shuck has handled a variety of situations lately with Garcia slowed by right knee inflammation. Of the last six games Shuck has played, four have come as a starter and in one, he took over for Garcia in the second inning. Over the entire span, Shuck has a .389/.429/.444 slash line with two RBI in 21 plate appearances.
“You get a good IQ guy that goes in there and is prepared and knows how to play, brings a little energy to it as well,” Ventura said. “You always want guys who can fill in and not be tentative when they’re in there and that’s Shuck. He is not lacking for confidence or anything else. He goes out there and plays hard. You just like the way he plays. That’s the kind of guy you want to fill in for somebody that is in your regular lineup and gets hurt. He’s just a good baseball player.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans]
Given he is replacing the White Sox second-best hitter this season, Ventura feels lucky to have Shuck available. As for Garcia, Ventura said he isn’t likely to play in Thursday’s doubleheader despite showing improvement. Garcia will be re-evaluated before Friday’s game in Houston.
“There is a really good chance he doesn’t get in at any point, but he’s feeling better so we’ll treat him up today,” Ventura said. “We’ll probably see how he feels tomorrow.”