2/21/2014 5:58 P.M. ET
Gillaspie eyes relaxed approach to ups, downs
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Conor Gillaspie readily admits that he'd like to play better defensively in 2014, and he understands that routine plays caused him more issues than challenging ones at third base last season.
But in looking for greater overall improvement for his second season with the White Sox, Gillaspie has turned more to the mental side of the game. Being confident and relaxed definitely make a difference in his mind.
"I'm starting to figure out a little bit more," Gillaspie said, "instead of coming in here tense and thinking about the game at 11 o'clock or noon. There's really no need for that. I'm starting to understand that won't help you in the long run.
"Quite frankly, I have days where my poor games last year were games where I couldn't let it go, couldn't escape from trying too hard. My goal this year is that I want to be somebody that will not be flustered by anything, that doesn't get down, doesn't get super excited.
"Basically, somebody that you can't get in their head. That's my goal this year, and I'm starting to kind of see how some of the older guys approach this game, and I can learn a lot from that."
When asked for a veteran player he's trying to learn from, Gillaspie pointed to Adam Dunn and his handling of the ups and downs in Chicago.
"He's had some rough spells. He's had some great spells. He's been through a lot," Gillaspie said. "The thing about him is, every day he comes in here with the same exact attitude, and if I can get to that point, it's going to make this job a lot more enjoyable for me because I'm so hard on myself.
"I'm so hard on losing games or if I screw up. There's going to come a point in my career where that's going to have to start tapering off a little bit. For some reason, since the first day I stepped in here this year, I've felt a little bit differently than I did last year. I was constantly worried about things last year and stressed out, and 'What if this happens? What if that happens?'
"Watching guys like Dunn, [Paul] Konerko even, those guys you wouldn't be able to tell how they've done throughout the course of game when they come in the locker room or when you see them the next day. That's going to be a big steppingstone for me as I get older."
Gillaspie, 26, hit .245 with 13 homers and 40 RBIs for the White Sox last season, while committing 16 errors over 113 games at third base. Gillaspie, who is out of Minor League options, is in competition with Jeff Keppinger, Marcus Semien and Matt Davidson for the third-base job.
Eaton, De Aza put extra attention on bunting
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox leadoff man Adam Eaton and outfielder Alejandro De Aza have spent time working with special instructor Bryan Little on their bunting skills in the hitting cages during the early stages of camp. It's a skill Eaton plans to focus on throughout the season.
"Another part of my game that you have to work on, and I think any small guy has to," said Eaton, who is listed at 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds. "It's all the same message: Get it down in a place where no one else can get it; different techniques and different styles, and how to go about it. As long as you have production, you are all right."
De Aza finished with seven bunt hits to tie for eighth in the Majors last season. Eaton, in 250 at-bats with the D-backs, produced four bunt singles.
Eaton added that he bunts until he feels good with it in the cages, knowing it's part of doing whatever possible to get on base at the top of the order.
"Definitely. Bunt, hit by a pitch, anyway possible," Eaton said. "If they are going to give it to you, you have to take it. That's something you have to lean on and continue to work on."
Garcia, Jones improving from mixed ailments
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Avisail Garcia missed Friday's workout due to an ingrown toenail, and White Sox manager Robin Ventura said that Garcia probably would be sidelined Saturday as well.
"[Head athletic trainer] Herm [Schneider] was able to relieve that pressure. He enjoyed it too," said a smiling Ventura, who called Garcia's issue minor. "Herm did. Avi did not."
After playing catch from 90 feet on Thursday, Nate Jones threw off the mound Friday. The closer candidate threw lightly to a catcher standing up, but got a little bit of the downward angle from throwing over the top.
"No discomfort," Jones said. "Maybe tomorrow another step and see where it goes."
"Again, you are trying to make sure he's not doing too much," Ventura said of Jones. "He's pushing it a little bit by trying to ask to get out there. We are holding back some just to make sure everything feels fine when he's out there throwing."
Jones had been sidelined since the start of camp due to a moderate left glute muscle strain.
Keppinger working to regain throwing strength
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After undergoing a debridement of his right shoulder Sept. 27 at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Jeff Keppinger was expected to recover in two to three months and be ready for Spring Training.
Keppinger, 33, is in camp and going through regular workouts, but he also is strengthening his arm through a throwing program at the same time.
"I'm still sort of rehabbing," Keppinger said. "It was tight. Real tight. I'm still in the process of getting it all loosened up and being able to do everything fully."
"I've noticed his throws aren't as strong as you'd think," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "So we're slowing him down to make sure he doesn't reinjure or do something where he would have to skip a few days because of his arm.
"So, slowing that down and giving him a little time to catch back up."
Keppinger, who is under contract for two years at $8.5 million total, hasn't given much thought to the third-base battle with Matt Davidson, Marcus Semien and Conor Gillaspie. Keppinger is simply trying to get his arm better.
"It was super tight. But over the last few months, it has loosened up a lot," Keppinger said. "It's definitely coming along. I know the first couple of times I threw, I wasn't throwing much farther than 30 feet. I'm at about 120 feet now. I'm getting there. It's just slow."
Third to first
• A White Sox Minor League minicamp began Friday for approximately 50 players.
• Del Matthews, the assistant director of White Sox player development and scouting, is the proud cousin of Aja Evans, who won a bronze in women's bobsledding at the Winter Olympics.
• Robin Ventura gave high marks Friday to John Danks, one of the pitchers who threw a live bullpen session.