10/12/12 3:50 PM ET
Viciedo concentrating on baseball, not contract
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
His four-year, $10-million deal, agreed upon with the White Sox on Dec. 12, 2008, ran through the '12 campaign. But this original contract, which included a $4 million signing bonus for the Cuban, dealt with compensation and not control issues.
Viciedo has 1.123 years of Major League service, meaning the White Sox have the same contractual control over him as they would with any player holding that same big league time. He probably won't even be arbitration eligible until prior to the 2015, '16 and '17 seasons, and the power-hitting left fielder would become a free agent after the '17 season, unless the White Sox and Viciedo work out another multi-year deal during this offseason or in the not-too-distant future.
Again, that topic doesn't seem of major concern to the 23-year-old.
"I really haven't been thinking about that. I'm still signed to the team," said Viciedo during a recent interview, through translator and White Sox manager of cultural development Jackson Miranda. "It's one of those things where all I have to worry about is coming in for Spring Training and just worry about the game.
"My mindset is helping out the team and kind of getting better with them. That aspect, with the contract, it will take care of itself."
This 2012 performance marks Viciedo's first full year in the big leagues as an everyday player. Despite the talented but raw hitter showing the expected ups and downs at the plate, his body of work would have to be considered an overall success.
For starters, Viciedo dealt with yet another position switch from right field to left that benefited the team greatly by moving Alex Rios back to his more comfortable defensive spot in right. Viciedo put in extensive Spring Training hours learning the new spot, to go along with previous stints at third base and first base, and became more comfortable there as the season progressed.
As for his results at the plate, Viciedo has the ability to be a true impact offensive player when using all parts of the ballpark. Viciedo entered a game against the A's on Aug. 10 mired in a 6-for-36 slump with just two RBIs over his previous 13 contests.
White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto believed the information was there for Viciedo, with video also showing that pitchers were working him middle, away, and like many young hitters, Viciedo simply wasn't adjusting. That night, courtesy of a game-tying, opposite-field homer in the seventh, Viciedo started trusting the information.
"Players need to experience it. That's why sometimes we can overcoach," said Manto of Viciedo at the time of the slump. "That's when coaches get in trouble, stepping in and giving too much information."
His hitting funk actually had extended to 21 games up until that August night, with Viciedo producing a .189 average, one homer and eight RBIs during that forgettable stretch. But Viciedo had 13 homers and 46 RBIs in his past 71 games since May 14.
There's no question Viciedo has the talent to carry a team. He proved that during the season's final series, homering in all three games at Progressive Field and driving in eight runs, albeit against a woeful Cleveland squad. It's still a showing that put an exclamation point on his overall performance and left Viciedo with an upbeat attitude moving into the offseason.
"I'm really excited and happy, because it's one of those that everything worked out," Viciedo said. "A lot of hard work during Spring Training, the work I put in with the coaches. For it to end this way, it's good. It shows the hard work paid off.
"To be able to make the adjustments during the season with the pitchers is a great feeling. I feel like the work I put in, making those adjustments and the opportunity I was given, I'm at a good place at the end of the year."
All of that Cleveland thunder left Viciedo with a .254 average, 25 homers and 78 RBIs for 2012. Greater consistency is the next target for the free-swinging Viciedo, who struck out 120 times and drew 28 walks in 147 games and 505 at-bats. He also batted .350 over 123 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, while dropping to .225 over 382 at-bats against right-handed hurlers.
Those eight RBIs for Viciedo over 13 October at-bats stood out as one more RBI than he had in 95 August at-bats, four more than he produced in 68 April at-bats and one less than his nine in 78 June at-bats. Of course, Viciedo hit .351 with eight homers and 24 RBIs during a monster May, which coincided with the White Sox push toward the American League Central forefront.
Taking on a greater offensive role in the White Sox lineup could be on Viciedo's 2013 agenda, with possible departures of third baseman Kevin Youkilis and catcher A.J. Pierzynski. It's a challenge Viciedo appears ready to tackle, making his individual improvement the offseason focus above any sort of contractual concerns.
"The biggest thing is just to continue with the fundamentals that I've been learning and doing and each year," Viciedo said. "It's still something to be able to improve on, but I feel like this is a good start."