Refined swing has Lillibridge hopeful
Utility player draws Guillen's praise for 'B' game effort
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Rarely has a groundout to shortstop, in a "B" game, no less, drawn such a rousing reaction from Ozzie Guillen.But there was Brent Lillibridge, getting a hearty pat on the back courtesy of the White Sox manager, after barely missing out on an infield hit during Tuesday's contest against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch-Glendale. The process stands almost as important as the results for the 26-year-old utility player, coming off a dismal campaign in his first year with the White Sox. "I put a lot of work into this offseason, thinking enough is enough," said Lillibridge, one day prior to Thursday's 4:05 CT Cactus League opener in Tempe, Ariz. "I've always worked hard, but I had to work smart, as well. Hopefully, that work will show up during games." Lillibridge came to the White Sox on Dec. 4, 2008, as part of a six-player trade with Atlanta in which veteran hurler Javier Vazquez served as the centerpiece. This fleet-footed infielder/outfielder and catcher Tyler Flowers were thought of as providing the greatest potential impact on the White Sox. In fact, there was some talk early on last Spring Training about how Lillibridge could emerge as the team's leadoff hitter and possibly even its center fielder. Lillibridge broke camp with the team but didn't do much with his opportunities. Much of his season was split between the big leagues and Triple-A Charlotte, leaving Lillibridge with a .158 average, nine runs scored, six stolen bases and 26 strikeouts in 95 at-bats. Guillen felt Lillibridge was swinging too much for the fences, not taking advantage of his raw speed. Following his extensive offseason work, including two sessions in California with hitting coach Greg Walker, Lillibridge understood how the mindset wasn't necessarily flawed. It was his swing that held the problem.
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Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.