DETROIT — The White Sox have long felt Tyler Saladino would be a player who improves with experience. Saladino wholeheartedly agrees with that assessment.
Now in his second season, Saladino looks like a more complete player. In the midst of a hot streak, the White Sox utility man is hitting .265/.302/.409 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 246 plate appearances this season.
The performance is far removed from when Saladino produced a boatload of defensive highlights in his rookie season but only a .602 OPS at the plate.
“At the beginning I didn’t know any of the (pitchers) really, didn’t know what their stuff was like, how they pitch or what I’m doing,” Saladino said with a hearty laugh. “All that stuff kind of plays into just everything. They’re all factors. I have a little more knowledge and the extra at-bats. You kind of know yourself, know what’s going on and kind of slowed things down a little bit. It’s huge.”
Saladino has played nearly every day with Brett Lawrie on the disabled list since July 22. Those consistent at-bats have resulted in one of the hottest stretches of Saladino’s career. Over the last 12 games, Saladino is hitting .326/.354/.522 with three doubles, two homers and nine RBIs in 49 plate appearances. The stretch doesn’t appear to have been propelled by a ton of luck, either; Saladino’s batting average on balls in play over the 12 games is only up a tick to .333 compared with a .310 season average.
Prior to the season, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Saladino has always improved in his second year at a level. Manager Robin Ventura has seen the difference in how Saladino competes at the plate.
“Just the quality of his at-bats have gotten better as the season has gone along and his experience has got him there,” Ventura said. “And everybody is going to see him a second time, have adjustments and do their adjustments on him. But he’s smart and cagey enough that he’s also making adjustments. He understands what guys are trying to do to him. You see him in one series and see him a couple weeks later he has a better idea what they’re trying to do to him and what he might see. And his recall is very good as far as being able to visualize what they’re trying to do to him and get the barrel to it.”
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Saladino said he expected the same. He said his style has always been to make corrections and improve.
“I definitely believed in it,” Saladino said. “That’s kind of how I’ve always been. I may not get it the first time, but I’m going to get it. I’m going to work at it, I’m going to figure it out the second time around or in the future from that first go at it. That’s how it has always been my whole life. If I didn’t get it in the beginning I was going to figure out how to get it done after that. That’s how a long of things go for me.
“A little bit of experience goes a long way.”