No Room for Viciedo in the Outfield

As Major League Baseball breaks for the annual All Star game, the White Sox remain far from being out of the A.L. Central Division race. Cleveland’s recent struggles have allowed the Tigers, White Sox and Twins back in contention. But without an offensive resurgence the South side team will not contend for much longer. There are many struggling players on the White Sox roster but most of them have no viable replacement on the team. Does anyone want Mark Teahen or Omar Vizquel starting in the Sox infield night-after-night? But the outfield is a different story. The team’s starting outfielders (Juan Pierre, Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin) all have sub-.270 batting averages. And though Carlos Quentin is having a solid year, Pierre and Rios continually hurt the team’s chances of winning. Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen need to call up young right fielder Dayan Viciedo to invigorate a slumping outfield.

Viciedo is batting .324 with 16 home runs and 62 RBI for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights. Numbers that would likely not have been reached at the major league level but numbers that still prove he belongs with the big club. He converted to right field during spring training so his defense remains a work-in-progress. He isn’t as fast as Pierre or as athletic as Rios but will eventually be a suitable corner outfielder. The value he can provide to a team who ranks 17th in runs scored cannot be ignored. In recent weeks the media has asked GM Kenny Williams and Manager Ozzie Guillen why he remains in Charlotte. Williams seemingly blames Guillen saying he will not add players to the roster unless the manager wants them. And Gullien accurately says that roster decisions are the GM’s decision. Both need to drop their child-like stand-off and do the obvious.

If called up the major league roster, Dayan Viciedo would immediately find at-bats. He would fit well as a right fielder which would allow Carlos Quentin to move to left field. Juan Pierre would become a spot starter who could fill in at any of the three outfield positions and be a late inning pinch runner. In order to keep enough at-bats for the three veterans, Viciedo could also become part of the Designated Hitter rotation with the struggling Adam Dunn. Dunn has shown little sign of breaking out of his season-long slump and Guillen can’t keep starting him day-after-day until his at-bats show improvement. At some point, probably this season, Dunn will find his swing and reclaim the spot full-time but, until then, Dayan would help fill the need. Viciedo becoming the primary right fielder and fill-in DH would add power to an anemic lineup and force players and management alike to remember that performance, not pay, determines who plays.

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