Good news: With 128 games and 572 plate appearances under his belt, Adam Eaton has already set career highs in workload.
Better news: There are still 28 games remaining.
It hasn't been easy for Eaton, who has been dealing with a sore shoulder suffered during a dive in center field on July 25, and reaggravated two weeks later.
"The shoulder has really just been my arm, my throwing and my throwing mechanics have changed a little bit and my sleep habits have been terrible," Eaton said. "But besides that, it’s just how it is. When shoulders are bad, it’s tough to lay in any position or anything like that and involves throwing. It is what it is and everyone has bumps or bruises up here."
Which is true. But this sets it apart:
Asked if he’d need surgery, Eaton said he preferred not to comment.
"It’s probably pretty difficult to call right now," Eaton said.
The idea of shoulder surgery on anybody is non-negligible, so hopefully Herm Schneider can map out a detour. That said, it'd be kinda incredible if he did require surgery, because if you looked at his season and guessed when he might be hurting the most, one would think April, when he hit .192/.241/.256. Since then, he's basically matched his line from last year while turning up the power a couple notches:
- 2014: .300/.362/.401
- 2015: .289/.365/.445
And the line only gets stronger when you roll the end points closer. He's hitting .326/.415/.475 during the second half, which is more or less his line since he injured his shoulder. His defense has stabilized as well, although that isn't nearly as much of a compliment. The metrics still grade him well below average in center field, but the silver lining is that most of that hole he dug during the first two months. Since then, his play has been easier on the eyes, so long as you discount his throws.
All this makes one wonder if Eaton could be hitting even better if he were healthy. That'd be hard to expect, just like it's hard to tell if Jose Abreu is ever quite 100 percent. The takeaway is that they're capable of performing even when they're banged up, which is the kind of stability the White Sox had in mind when they inked Eaton to an extension that officially linked the new core.
As for the rest of 2015, the presence of Trayce Thompson gives Robin Ventura the ability to ease Eaton across the finish line. It'd be cool to see a "150" in the games column given the durability concerns he brought into the season, especially in a season where he didn't need a (relative) ironman streak to reach that milestone. Because he's played and played well through his shoulder injury, he has six potential sick days and the occasional turn at DH to get him there.