PITTSBURGH -- As he continues to struggle at the plate, the White Sox can’t afford to have second baseman Carlos Sanchez hurt them defensively.
With Sanchez hitting .149/.211/.184 with six RBIs in 97 plate appearances through Monday, the team is working to simplify his offensive approach to get him back on track. Hitting coach Todd Steverson has worked to get Sanchez back to “square one” to rediscover the player who hit .293 with 57 RBIs at Triple-A last season. But in the meantime, the White Sox need Sanchez to stay focused in the field, the reason why he’s here in the first place.
“You feel like you cant find your way out of it and this game doesn’t stop,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s every day, and it’s tougher on the mind sometimes than the physical stuff. You just have to be tough. In talking to him, you have to continue to stay tough and believe in yourself. Defensively, realize that he can play out here in the big leagues. Offensively he has some work to do and grind through it.”
Sanchez hasn’t been perfect defensively but has been an upgrade at second over Micah Johnson, who hit .270 but struggled with his glove before he was sent back to Triple-A.
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But on the offensive end, the White Sox believe Sanchez is -- just like many of his teammates -- trying to overcompensate for the team’s struggles.
“He’s doing a hell of a job on defense,” Steverson said. “He wants to pick up the slack on offense and he has always hit.
“You’ve got to go back to square one. I need to back my brain up and where have I put myself and why and what can I do to change this? What is the one most thing I can do to compete at this level while I’m getting my bearings back? That’s where we’re at right now. I’ve got pure confidence he can hit.”
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Sanchez said Steverson has done a good job instilling the belief that the infielder can hit again. The two have been hard at work in the cage and watching video, trying to help Sanchez rediscover his swing.
While it may take more time and work, Sanchez is doing his best to ensure to maintain his defense.
“He believes in my talent, he knows I’m better than what I have right now,” Sanchez said. “It’s really tough because you want to do the best, you want to help the team and it’s hard when you don’t do what you want to do.
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“I know my defense is really good right now. I don’t want to mess it up if I’m hitting or not.”
Ventura endured his share of struggles as a young player, too. He has stressed to Sanchez that even though the White Sox offense has struggled, it’s not on Sanchez to try and do it all and become a hitter he isn’t used to being.
“I’ve been there,” Ventura said. “We’re not asking him to hit home runs -- make hard contact and put it in play. We’re not asking to jump on his back and have him carry us. That’s where he needs to settle down with a little balance and put it in play.”