Logjams at most positions always occur when rosters expand in September. White Sox manager Robin Ventura must become the juggling master as he tries to balance seeing what the young players can do while giving the veterans their time to sort out their struggles.
“You’re always juggling, getting guys in there that you have up here that you want to see,” Ventura said. “You want to see where they’re at. The guys that have been here all year, you want to make sure they continue. Avi (Garcia) needs to continue getting his time in there for his first full year in the big leagues.”
One of the guys fighting for time is second baseman Micah Johnson, who was called up on Tuesday. Johnson started the season as the starting second baseman and was a contributor in an offense that struggled to score runs. But his play in the field was the biggest factor in the team sending him back down to Triple-A Charlotte.
While his defense didn’t take any tremendous steps forward (.972 fielding percentage in 75 games this year with the Knights compared to .971 with the White Sox in 27 games this year), his bat may become too valuable to keep out of the lineup in the future. In his small amount of playing time this year at the major league level, Johnson is hitting .269, which would be fifth best on the team of hitters with 75 at-bats or more. He’s also got an element of speed that the Sox have not shown at all this year. Johnson racked up 28 steals in Triple-A this season and hit .319 in the process.
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Johnson took advantage of a start last night by smacking a double off Twins pitcher Ervin Santana and making a diving stop on defense to take a hit away. Ventura hopes the 24-year old takes advantage of the final month of the season to get comfortable at the major-league level.
“I think for him, it's still just being up here and getting acclimated and just continuing to play. He'll get some more spots to be in there and play. I think for him being up here, late in the game you can see coming in to pinch run and still be in to play, maybe pinch hit.”
Johnson’s competition for second base, Carlos Sanchez, has struggled at the plate (.219, but has been a very solid defender. While a position change could help Johnson’s chances of seeing more playing time, Ventura isn’t ready for that experiment just yet.
“I'm sure he probably could but I think that would have already been started, just as a versatility option,” Ventura said. “For right now with him being up here, I don't see just sticking him out somewhere unless he's already done it. That would probably happen more in spring training than have it happen right here.”