06/18/10 6:50 PM ET
Viciedo to make anticipated debut Saturday
Young Cuban slugger to start at third base for White Sox
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
Some pundits expected an earlier arrival for Viciedo after signing a four-year, $10 million deal before the 2009 campaign as a teenage free agent coming from Cuba. But both general manager Ken Williams and Viciedo agree the time and preparation is right for the power-packed right-handed hitter to tackle big league competition.
"I understand it's a process, and when the opportunity came, I was going to take advantage of it," said Viciedo through translator and White Sox bench coach Joey Cora. "I feel like I'm ready now."
"Well, he's at a place where we feel comfortable and confident enough to bring him to Chicago and let's see how he can handle this level," Williams said. "He is about as dangerous right now as I've seen him at the plate and as confident as I've seen him."
Viciedo, 21, was called up from Triple-A Charlotte following the White Sox three-game sweep of Pittsburgh on Thursday night, with infielder Jayson Nix designated for assignment. Viciedo hit .290 with 14 home runs, 34 RBIs and a .525 slugging percentage in 62 games with the Knights, playing 51 at first base and 10 at third.
At age 21 years and 100 days, Viciedo ranks as the third-youngest White Sox player since 2000 to make his Major League debut. He trails Jon Garland at 20 years, 281 days in '00 and infielder Pedro Lopez at 21 years, three days in '05.
Manager Ozzie Guillen resisted the urge to put one of the White Sox top prospects against the top young pitcher in the game in the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg for Friday night's contest at Nationals Park. But Guillen plans to split time at third base between Viciedo and Omar Vizquel, who is 22 years older than Viciedo, trusting in Williams and Minor League director Buddy Bell in that Viciedo is ready to make a contribution.
"I've trusted those guys for seven years," Guillen said. "I don't think Kenny is going to bring up somebody who can't help us. If he brings him up here, I play him."
"He's going to get a lot of significant playing time simply because Omar was brought in here to spell the guys in the middle [infield], not to play every day," said Williams of Viciedo. "He's going to get his at-bats and certainly enough at-bats, whether or not he's progressed to the level, where he can be a force."
Williams spoke of Viciedo being physically in shape, a point reinforced when Viciedo walked into the locker room and exchanged hugs with shortstop Alexei Ramirez. The general manager also talked about positive reports coming from Bell concerning Viciedo's play at third.
So, now it's up to Viciedo. His debut won't be greeted with quite the same hype as Strasburg or even Florida's Mike Stanton, but Viciedo quickly could become extremely important to the White Sox cause.
"It's because of all the preparation and getting ready for this moment," said Viciedo, who homered in each of his last three games with Charlotte and had a .393 average over his last eight games. "I feel everything is coming together. I'm really feeling as good as ever."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.