Tyler Saladino promotion spells the end for Conor Gillaspie


Offensive production at third base has been hard to come by this season for the Chicago White Sox. That fact should surprise no one.

After a season in which the team got a .250 average with a .302 on base percentage and 11 home runs from their third basemen, there was a clear need for some kind of upgrade at the position.

The answer was Gordon Beckham. (I was just as surprised as you were)

The same Gordon Beckham who was traded away last season for his inability to deliver with the bat.

Beckham was ideally signed for his glove. His role would be to serve as the team’s utility infielder and platoon with Conor Gillaspie when left-handers were on the mound.

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Despite a career line of .244/.314/.373 against lefties, Beckham hit .293/.349/.431 against them last season giving the White Sox brass the false hope that he can repeat that performance if he faces them exclusively.

If you could combine that with another year of Gillaspie hitting .300/.360/.444 against right-handers like he did in 2014, you would have a solid combination at the hot corner.

Needless to say, it hasn’t happened.

With both players struggling at the plate, the White Sox made a surprise move before their weekend series against the Chicago Cubs by calling up infielder Tyler Saladino.

Saladino, a seventh round pick in the 2010 amateur draft, took the organization by storm last season in Triple-A. He hit .310/.367/.483 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs. An elbow injury limited him to just 82 games.

Regularly a shortstop, he also displayed the ability to play all over the field. He has played all four positions in the infield and in 2014, played eight games in left field.

This season, his numbers haven’t been quite matched last season’s. Saladino was hitting .255/.332/.372 with four home runs, 29 RBIs and 25 stolen bases in 27 attempts. After hitting a low point in June, he started to get hot in July, which led to his promotion.

Since his call-up, he has eight hits in 26 at bats (.308 avg) and connected on his first home run Sunday.

With an immediate need of a relief pitcher following a 13-inning game on Saturday, the White Sox could wait no longer in delaying the removal of a position player from the major league roster.

The ended up being Gillaspie.

Jun 23, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie (12) throws the ball to first base for an out in the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

This ends a three-year run in Chicago for Gillaspie that I’m sure no one expected to go this far.

When the White Sox traded for him the 2013 season, the idea was for him to help the team out as a left-handed bench bat. Instead, injuries to other players thrust him into a starting role.

Despite so-so defense at third base, he continued to get better as a contact hitter and spent most of 2014 with an average above .300.

This season however, he couldn’t maintain any good stretch of offense and as a one-dimensional player, if you’re not hitting, then what good are you really? It is the reason he is gone and Beckham is still here.

So with Gillaspie now out of the picture, the focus is on Saladino. He will now serve as the team’s everyday third baseman and appears to be capable both at the plate and in the field.

If the White Sox become sellers at the end of the month like many are expecting, there will be others like Saladino coming from a strong Triple-A Charlotte club looking to make an impact.

Next: Adam LaRoche the key to a White Sox turnaround.

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