Just like most Americans, Austin Jackson began his work week on Monday, reporting with the White Sox after signing a one-year, $5 million deal on Sunday.
While Rick Hahn did all the talking on Sunday night, Jackson and Robin Ventura were able to give airtime to their angles, and everybody seems to have the story straight.
Ventura gave his usual line that playing time will be earned, but assuming Jackson meets those standards for competency, he'll open the season in a platoon-player-plus role:
“He can defend very well in the outfield, and in center field, so there’s an opportunity to have him go out there and Eaton can move around a little bit,” Ventura said. “We do have some flexibility to get guys playing multiple positions and move it around and give us some better options against lefties. We’ve struggled a little in the past against lefties, so this is one way to do that. Anytime you can add somebody who can play like Austin you definitely look at it and Rick was able to pull it off.”
The White Sox might not be promising as much to Jackson as he was accustomed to with Detroit, but he's not the only one compromising. Adam Eaton will have to move to a corner to accommodate him, and while he acknowledged his personal preference for center field on Monday, he's been unflagging in his support of adding talent:
“Still have some question marks, not sure what’s going to happen, sure camp will help play it out, but we’re happy to have him,” Eaton said. “As I mentioned on Twitter last night, I’ll do anything. It doesn’t matter where you play me, left, center or right, DH, doesn’t matter. I just want to win. It makes the team better, that’s all I care about.”
Eaton isn’t shy about his desire to play center -- “I like to be in charge,” he said. But if it helps the White Sox shed their losing ways, Eaton approves.
For now, the outfield rearrangement is more of a theoretical exercise since Eaton has been restricted to designated hitting. That position is open because Adam LaRoche is recovering from severe back spasms. Eaton's comments about DHing give you an idea of what it might sound like if he really didn't want to move from center:
"I hate it," Eaton said, "and I think everybody hates it, too, because they hear me chatterbox in there and I'm pacing up and down and chewing too many seeds and too much bubblegum and champing at the bit to get out there.
"I hate it because you don't really get in the flow of the game, either. You can only impact the game one way, and if you don't, you hate it. I get out and go back to the bench and sulk about it for the next hour until I get another at-bat."
Perhaps this is one benefit from Eaton's prolonged rehabbing period -- playing a corner might be his second choice, but it looks like heaven compared to not playing a defensive position at all.
His timetable for returning to the field remains unclear, as does LaRoche's. But the latter is better than it originally appeared, as LaRoche was able to participate in a light workout just two days after his back spasms, which he originally thought would cost him at least two weeks.
It's easy to play Mickey to LaRoche's Rocky and tell him to stay down, but the Sox' wide-net approach to the offseason stands its best chance at succeeding with all hands on deck, at least at the onset. There are a lot of players seeking rebounds, not every one will succeed, and the ones that do might be the ones you're not expecting.