Over the last couple weeks of spring training, Robin Ventura has had White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie take a few starts at first base. On Thursday, Ventura moved Gillaspie from third base to first base at the end of the game in a move that might be a common sight this season.
While Robin Ventura was earning fiirst gold glove with the White Sox in 1991, the White Sox were using a combination of players at first base. Dan Pasqua and Frank Thomas lead the way with 56 and 54 starts respectively. Along the way, Robin Ventura ended up playing 31 games at first base with seven starts.
With the playing time Gillaspie has had this spring, Ventura may be getting him ready for a similar role with the Sox this season. If the Sox are leading in the ninth inning, Ventura might shift Gillaspie to first and bring in Gordon Beckham as a defensive replacement at third base. While this would likely improve the overall defense for the final inning, it has a big downside. If you lose the lead, Jose Abreu will be sitting on the bench. When Ventura was doing this as a player, Frank Thomas was usually the DH, leaving the teams best hitter in the game. That's something Ventura will need to think about before he tries it with Gillaspie this season.