04/12/2013 8:37 PM ET
Despite odd year, Rios feeling at ease
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Alex Rios does not need to have the statistics recited to know the quiet concern people had about him coming into this season.
Over the last four years, the White Sox right fielder has alternated bad seasons with good. And after Rios produced the best effort of his career in 2012, the question is whether he found something in his swing and his game to carry into a successful 2013, or would the odd-year struggles of 2009 and 2011 be repeated?
It was a question for those outside the organization, but not for Rios and the White Sox.
"I don't really listen to those things," Rios said. "It's something, it's irrelevant to me. I don't think ballplayers have tendencies, so I don't really listen to it or look at it in any way. It doesn't matter if you had a good year or bad year.
"Every year is different. You can do so many other things that are different compared to other years."
Thanks to his first-inning single off the left field wall in Friday's 1-0 loss to the Indians, Rios has now hit in all 10 games this season and has a 16-game hitting streak dating back to Sept. 26. He was hitting .410 with a 1.260 OPS and had picked up three outfield assists in right field during the first three games of this 10-game, three-city road stretch, supplemented by two great running catches during Friday's tough setback.
But it has been Rios' ability to handle struggles that have helped him in part to find more consistent success.
"I've become a better ballplayer and a better person too," Rios said. "When I was younger, I would take my at-bats to my defense and at home too. I would be thinking about it at home. Now, you get to know yourself better and you know how to ease things up a little bit more.
"You just want to focus on simple things when you are at the plate. You just want to obviously see the ball and hit it and leave behind all the mechanics and all the stuff that are related to hitting, so that's what I'm trying to do. Simplifying things and go out there with a good plan and a good approach."
Right-hander Heath takes Beckham's roster spot
CLEVELAND -- The White Sox opted for a 13th pitcher and eighth reliever to take the roster spot of Gordon Beckham, who was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a hamate bone fracture in his left wrist, a fracture that will cost Beckham six weeks and will be operated on Tuesday in Cleveland. Deunte Heath, 27, was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte after striking out six in three innings over two relief appearances for the Knights.
White Sox starting pitchers had lasted seven innings in just two of the first nine games this year, and both of those efforts belonged to Chris Sale. During the Nationals' three-game sweep, Jake Peavy pitched just 5 2/3 innings and Gavin Floyd made it through 5 1/3 innings, and it was just 3 2/3 innings for Dylan Axelrod on Thursday. Heath gives the White Sox another middle relief option, especially with Hector Santiago having thrown 3 1/3 scoreless innings over the last two games.
"With Gordon going down, the way our last games have done, you're sitting there and looking at using guys over and over again," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "The way we use our lineup and everything else, guys just play.
"You don't see a lot of pinch-hit opportunities in there and things like that. They're either playing or pinch-run. For right now, it lets guys kind of get a break between coming and doing what we need to do that way."
Heath was chosen over third baseman Brent Morel or infielder Steve Tolleson, who would have needed to be added to the 40-man roster, which is at 40. He was also selected over fellow Charlotte reliever Brian Omogrosso because Heath was throwing the best according to the reports.
"It's not forever. Again, for right now, that makes the most logic for me," Ventura said. "The biggest thing is you get another guy who can extend, throw multiple innings, and he has the ability to do that. I think Hector was in the last couple nights, so it kind of protects overusing him, too."
White Sox playing it close early in season
CLEVELAND -- The first 10 games played by the White Sox this season were all decided by three runs or fewer. The White Sox are 3-3 in one-run games, 0-1 in two-run games and 1-2 in three-run games.
This year's results follow a trend from 2012, when 103 White Sox games were decided by three runs or fewer. The team posted a 26-21 mark in one-run games, a 14-24 ledger in two-run games and a 9-9 record in three-run contests.
"We are used to those games," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. "I don't think we think too much of it. Whether we are down by a few runs or whatever it is, it's going to get close. It seems like we take it into the ninth inning a lot, whether we are ahead or behind. It keeps you on your toes."
"Our games are always close," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You are always within a single and a home run of getting back into it."
Those constant close contests seemed to wear down the White Sox by the end of last year, with the countless pressure innings finally catching up to them. Their focus has not wavered under Ventura, though, from simply looking at the game at hand.
"Just stay patient and consistent with worrying about today rather than just what happened the past three days," Ventura said. "That's the focus for everybody. We're early in this and don't panic."
Third to first
• Fifty members of the White Sox Amateur City Elite youth baseball program will attend a special screening of "42" on Saturday afternoon in Country Club Hills, a southwest suburb of Chicago. The White Sox have arranged for the youngsters to view the film based on the life of Jackie Robinson and his breaking of the color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.
• The White Sox allowed 20 runs in their three-game sweep at the hands of the Nationals, compared with 19 allowed in their first six.
• Hector Gimenez started behind the plate Friday to get another left-handed bat in the lineup against Cleveland starter Justin Masterson. Ventura also gave a night off to Tyler Flowers, who is hitless in his last 17 at-bats.