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Reading Room: 20 years later, Michael Jordan's baseball career more impressive than ever

Plus: Erik Johnson and the rotation complete their first turn, Adam Dunn walks a second red carpet, and a first look at new play-tracking software

Al Bello

Below are two season lines for prominent White Sox outfield prospects at Double-A Birmingham, extrapolated to 497 plate appearances.

Player A 497 17 1 3 51 51 114 30 18 .202 .289 .266
Player B 497 10 3 9 34 70 163 22 9 .174 .297 .275

One of these players was a first-round draft pick spending a second stint with the Barons. The other one was a 31-year-old who parachuted into the Southern League with zero baseball experience after high school, instead spending the previous 15 or so years playing a wholly different sport.

Player A is Michael Jordan in 1994. Player B is Jared Mitchell in 2013.

Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of Jordan's baseball debut at White Sox spring training in 1994, and I think time has been charitable to him. Compared to his success in the NBA, his baseball career looked like a complete flop, but now that we have distance from the shock of his decision, it's pretty clear that Jordan probably did as well as anybody could reasonably expect (and he fared even better in the Arizona Fall League, while battling first-time fatigue of full-season baseball).

Robin Ventura, who spent time alongside Jordan in Sarasota 20 years ago, said he enjoyed Jordan's excursion into pro baseball.

"It was a fun spring training," Ventura said. "Any time a guy like him that was as good as he was at a sport and then all of a sudden comes over to ours, it was fun for us." [...]

"To come out of nowhere and pick it up again -- he was a good enough athlete," Ventura said. "Outfield-wise, defensively, he could still run it down and do it. Hitting was going to take a while."

Christian Marrero Reading Room

Tyler Flowers promised observers a different look when he swung the bat. It's not as radical as I'd hoped:

‘‘Stance is kind of underrated,’’ Flowers said. ‘‘There is a level of comfort for every guy in their stance, and it sets the stage for a guy in his at-bat, being comfortable in seeing the ball, being confident and relaxed.’’

Flowers describes it this way: ‘‘A wider base. Hands are definitely relaxed. I’m doing a better job ­getting a good load. Just ­really ­focus on trying to be on time, ­getting my foot down in a fashion that gives me a chance to swing the bat when I want to. That’s a big aspect for me — to not panic with two strikes and give myself a chance to hit the ball.’’

Daryl Van Schouwen says Robin Ventura is letting his starting pitchers face AL Central opponents after hiding them last season. Last spring's longer schedule may have afforded more opportunities to toy with the schedule and let the extra starters get full turns.

Erik Johnson startted his spring on firm footing, with three innings of one-run ball against Cleveland. Johnson keeps his interaction with the media pretty spartan, but Colleen Kane got a more candid assessment from John Danks.

The White Sox rolled out the red carpet for Dunn, although a different one than Dunn walked on Sunday at the Academy Awards.

Dunn said he walked the real red carpet at the Oscars "quickly" and laughed when asked the customary fashion question, "Who were you wearing?"

"Men's Wearhouse, I think," Dunn said. "Nothing cool, no 'Dumb and Dumber.'"

In reunited former White Sox battery news, Jake Peavy has already been hurt twice this season. In this latest episode, he cut his finger with a fishing knife. A.J. Pierzynski has had a couple scary-looking missteps, but he's more resilient.

Ben Lindbergh reports on the crazy new frontier of analytics -- MLB Advanced Media's new play-tracking system. It's fascinating, but it also opens the door for serious frustration if we're never able to play with the data ourselves. PITCHf/x has done wonders for our understanding of pitching, but HITf/x never became publicly available. Which one will this new system more closely resemble?