Dating back to when Robin Ventura invited him on board to serve as bench coach, Mark Parent has often stepped up to serve as the coaching staff's enforcer. In the past, it's taken forms such as dissertations on retaliation and a pregame ejection.
Saturday, with Parent standing in for Ventura, the disciplinarian bent manifested itself on the lineup card. J.B. Shuck took Adam Eaton's spot in center field and at the top of the order. The usual reasons couldn't be drawn, as Eaton had a two-hit game at the plate on Friday, and success in the past against Tampa starter Chris Archer.
There was more to it, as Eaton protested the decision out loud and at length.
"YOU'RE NOT MY REAL DAD!" // MT @ChiTribKane Adam Eaton had a loud closed door meeting with Mark Parent after learning he wasn't in lineup.— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) June 13, 2015
Parent tried to talk around it in an awkward pregame media session:
But it turns out that Parent and Daryl Boston had issues with Eaton's positioning:
One aspect Eaton might not have been alarmed by was another discussion with Boston about positioning. The White Sox believe Eaton’s strength is going back on the ball. They have previously advised him to play a shallower center field. In Friday’s loss, Eaton, who also had a spectacular tumbling grab, appeared to misread an RBI base hit to shallow center.
"These are our guys," Parent said. "You’ve got to keep encouraging, keep trying to play better and talk to them about it. D-Bo having a discussion with Eaton today … We’ve had that discussion numerous times. Well, let’s have another one, so we have another one."
Those particular details probably would have stayed out of the news had Eaton not made some noise -- think Chris Sale's argument with Robin Ventura at the end of last season -- but it didn't have lasting ramifcations, at least regarding the rest of Saturday. Parent brought Eaton off the bench, and Eaton delivered good at-bats. Parent spoke well of Eaton after the game:
"I let him know we think the world of him. He's not playing for whatever reason. He's on board and he's going to be here for the next three, four five years and do well. And he came in and had a great at-bat, played good defense."
And while Eaton didn't exactly reciprocate warmth, he didn't exacerbate the tension:
"[Parent] can speak on that," Eaton said. "I’m not going to. I sat for a few innings and then got out there and had two good at-bats. We gave them a little run at the end but it was a tough loss for us today. Samardzija pitched a heck of a game. It would have been nice to get the win for him, but it wasn’t in the cards. We are looking forward to tomorrow. Another good starter we have out there.
"Like I said, I can’t really speak too much on it. I just work here."
Now, the question is whether Alexei Ramirez will receive a similar treatment today. It's one thing to have a bad day, but the last two games have been marred by late-inning mistakes at shortstop, including an ill-advised flip to second that was more of a mental error than a physical one. He wasn't available to reporters after the game, which is mostly noteworthy because he had another game he didn't want to talk about.
[Parent] said Ramirez cares and the effort is there.
"But he does need to make those plays,’’ Parent said. "He’s made them before. It seems like things like that happen too often. Not just to him but to us that end up adding outs, adding baserunners and not getting outs. Those things are adding up too frequently. We have to correct it. We have to play better.’’
If he does bench Ramirez, he won't be able to use the hot-hand argument like he did with Shuck. Gordon Beckham is stuck in an 0-for-24 slump, which is timed perfectly with his return to "starting infielder" status.