Besides Alex Rios' thrilling stance experiment, there were some other players and moments that stood out for the White Sox during their spring opener against the Dodgers on Monday.
THINGS I LIKED
*Gordon Beckham's defense: Beckham ranged left. He ranged right and threw across his body. He charged a chopper. He made a great relay throw. The Dodgers were only a difficult pop-up away from giving Beckham every kind of fielding test, and Beckham made easy work of all of it.
*Team defense: Beckham's relay throw was made possible by an excellent read by Kosuke Fukudome on a drive off the wall. Fukudome gave himself room to field the carom, spun and hit Beckham, who spun and hit Tyler Flowers, who got the tag down for a clear out at the plate. The 9-4-2 relay might be the best relay I've seen the Sox turn since I've been blogging. Too bad it's only the spring.
Likewise, Alexei Ramirez was able to make his trademark play -- hitting the ground to glove a grounder to his left, popping up and firing to first. He even gave the play at third a look before taking the safe out. Jim Gallagher made a diving catch on a flare over his head. The Sox played a sound defensive game in all respects.
*Addison Reed's slider: He made Matt Kemp look silly twice in one at-bat, and with two different locations. The first slider was down and away to the right-handed Kemp, but the second would have been a called strike had Kemp not already been way out in front with his swing.
*Signs of life from Jared Mitchell: Mitchell put a nice and easy swing for a line-drive back through the box -- so back through the box that it squarely hit second base, and took a strange, high hop into shallow right field. Mitchell turned on the jets and made it to second without a throw. His second at-bat was more predictable, as he struck out on a tailing changeup well out of the zone, but hey, it was nice to see the wheels.
*Hector Santiago: Every White Sox pitcher but one got the job done on Monday, but I thought Santiago stood out over his two innings of work. He allowed a pair of hits and didn't strike anybody out, but he had no problem getting his fastball in on right-handed hitters.
*Strike-throwing: White Sox pitching nearly made it through the entire game without walking a batter, until Charlie Leesman issued a free pass with one out in the ninth. Still, he went unscored upon.
THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE
Gordon Beckham's bat: Maybe Beckham has a finite pool of baseball resources, and whatever he expends on his defense, he can't use at the plate. Whatever the case, Beckham struck out in both of his at-bats, with the trademark lateness that plagued him in 2011.
Nestor Molina's line: 1.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR.
Molina gave up a natural cycle in the sixth inning. He did throw one great wipeout splitter to strike out Trent Oeltjen, but most of everything else was out and over the plate. His day was the definition of control, not command.
Here's some silver lining: It might benefit the Sox in the long run if Molina struggles early. Some people are open to the idea of Molina starting the season in the bullpen if he pitches well enough this spring, and I can't see how that would help anybody.
Six hits: That's not exactly the start everybody hoped for. Lineup timing is partly to blame -- in two different innings, Don Mattingly gave work to left-handed pitchers while the White Sox lineup had a clump of lefties coming to the plate. Still, let's put Jeff Manto and Robin Ventura on the hot seat just to be safe.