Teahen, Pierre off to slow starts at plate
Veterans know spring is time to work on mechanics
LAS VEGAS -- Prior to Saturday's 8-7 loss to the Cubs at Cashman Field during Big League Weekend, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen expressed almost no worry over Mark Teahen's early Cactus League struggles with the bat.
"He's my third baseman and we have to be patient," said Guillen of Teahen.
With another three hitless at-bats Saturday, the veteran's average dropped to .105 through seven games with the White Sox. And Guillen's postgame tune changed just a bit.
As has been pointed out with closer Bobby Jenks' struggles, these March statistics ultimately mean nothing. Nonetheless, Guillen sees something missing with Teahen.
"I'm starting to worry a little bit about Teahen," Guillen said. "I see the same swing. He's not getting anything going for himself. He has to work to try to get better. He's going to get more at-bats. Right now, he's struggling at the plate."
Teahen grounded out to third baseman Jeff Baker in his first at-bat on Saturday and then grounded back to left-handed pitcher J.R. Mathes with runners on second and third and nobody out in the fourth. Guillen talked about adjustments made in Teahen's stance through the guidance of hitting coach Greg Walker, but he added how Teahen just doesn't look comfortable.
The low-key Teahen, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Royals for Chris Getz and Josh Fields, agreed with Guillen's assessment to some extent. Teahen also joked how he knocked out a hit in his initial at-bat with the White Sox but didn't realize how difficult it would be to pick up hit No. 2.
"Anytime you join a new team, you want to do well right away," said Teahen, who has two singles in 19 at-bats this spring. "I guess it's nice I have Spring Training to get comfortable.
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"It's coming around and I feel like I'm getting in the groove a little bit. I know I haven't been a superstar the first games I've played, but I'm not too worried about it."
Leadoff man Juan Pierre has faced these same early struggles as Teahen, entering Saturday with a .176 average over 17 at-bats. Against the Cubs, Pierre singled, doubled, reached base on an error and laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt.
One important trait shared by both of these players is their roster spot, and starting spot, for that matter, stands as absolutely secure. They both have taken the spring opportunity to work on specific parts of their offensive game, such as Pierre bunting at least once in every Cactus League contest.
Even with that built-in rationalization, neither veteran is looking to make outs. It doesn't matter if it's Game 5 of the World Series or Game 5 of Spring Training.
"I'm not trying to get out, by no means," Pierre said. "I'm healthy, and that's the main thing. My legs and mind are both feeling good. So, I hope White Sox fans aren't panicking on me just yet."
"Whether it's in the field or at the plate, it's all timing," Teahen said. "But it's getting to the point in Spring Training where you've got to turn it up. I feel like I'm starting to get comfortable in the box."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.