It’s important for Adam Dunn and Alex Rios to have a bounce back year. Jake Peavy needs to stay healthy if the White Sox want to compete for a division title this year. The Sox are going to need big contributions from their big ticket players but it’s the utility men who could prove to be the difference this year.
Throughout the spring people have raved about Brent Lillibridge‘s play. I have even seen some go as far as to say he is the most important player on the team. Before you scream blasphemy recognize the statement is not so far fetched.
A quality baseball team is driven by their money players but it’s the little guys going above and beyond that make a team special. Where would the St. Louis Cardinals be without the heroics of Allen Craig last year? The year before that you might remember what Cody Ross and Juan Uribe meant to the Giants during their championship run.
Brent Lillibridge may be small in stature but his big heart and propensity to make big plays could loom large for the White Sox this season. He has the ability to play all over the field and give manager Robin Ventura a different dynamic he can’t get from his everyday lineup.
Lillibridge is hitting .327 this spring with seven doubles and 11 runs scored.He is carrying an on base percentage of .377 and is slugging .469. He will be a valuable member of the team this season. Expect him to give some veterans a breather as well as provide a different wrinkle to an otherwise stationary lineup.
The impact Lillibridge has made this spring is so big it looks like Ventura will keep another similar player. With the new roster cuts all signs point to the manager keeping rookie Eduardo Escobar on the team. The White Sox had plenty of corner fielding options as well as big name minor league players they could give this spot to but instead it’s the youngster from Venezuela who seems to be in the driver seat.
All Escobar has done this spring is hit .421 while slugging .553 in 18 games this spring. Ventura realizes a one dimensional team can’t win anymore. You need flexibility and a spark plug or two if you want to last through a long season.
Score one or in this case two for the little guys. At the end of the season the burly sluggers may get all the story lines but if this team is going to make any noise it will be because their utility men played a major role.