SEATTLE -- Two months has made all the difference for Carlos Sanchez.
Whereas he was out of sorts, uncomfortable and hitting a light .160 in mid-June, the White Sox rookie has climbed out of a deep slump and turned around his young career.
On Friday night, Sanchez added a bullet point to a highly productive six-week run with two hits, a walk and a career-high four RBIs, including several late in a White Sox rout of the Seattle Mariners. It’s more evidence that Sanchez, who said he has regained his confidence, might have more pop in his bat than your normal glove-first infielder. Since July 7, Sanchez is hitting .321/.354/.479 with 16 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs.
“Those times he went through, that’s probably as low as he’s been in this game offensively,” hitting coach Todd Steverson said. “It came down to really learning how to deal with himself again.
“He’s come a long way from where he was and I still think he has more in him. People might look and say he’s a .240 hitting second baseman but look where that .240 came from.”
From May 15 through July 6, Sanchez hit .151/.196/.209 with nine RBIs. He managed to keep his offensive woes from interfering with his defense, but Sanchez struggled far worse than he ever had at any time in his pro career.
Steverson said Sanchez looked at every aspect of his approach as he tried to get back on track but ultimately it came down to being ready to hit the fastball and building from there.
That led to Friday’s performance, where he appeared to put the game out of reach with a two-run double off Felix Hernandez in the sixth inning. After Seattle made it a game again, Sanchez twice more helped the White Sox extend their lead with a bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning and an RBI double in the ninth.
“He’s now to the point where he’s just not trying to survive anymore,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “To be a winning player and to be able to do things to help the team win -- and not that he wasn’t always doing that before -- but sometimes when you’re not doing well survival becomes the first thought. Now he’s very confident going into games and he can help us do something. He’s very valuable for us down in the bottom of the lineup.”
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Sanchez said his success has been predicated off improved pitch selection. He and Steverson worked hard to get Sanchez in the right frame of mind to be ready to hit the fastball and everything took off from there.
“The first thing is to swing at good pitches and then be on time,” Sanchez said. “I’m really comfortable. It feels good to help the team.”
Ventura knows the feeling from his own career. He believes Sanchez can only benefit from his slow climb back from the depths.
“When you struggle and your livelihood is put in jeopardy and you’re able to make it back, in his mind now he’s a big leaguer and he knows he can play here and he knows he can go against the best just like he did last night and be able to get some hits and be successful and that’s a big step for a young kid because this game, for a lot of young guys, can bring you to your knees,” Ventura said. “He was pretty close to that early in the year when he first came up.”