CHICAGO |The age-old story of baseball redemption played itself out again Saturday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.
A host of White Sox rubbed sleep out of their eyes and limbered up tired muscles from Friday’s seven-hour, 53-minute, two-defeat doubleheader, ending at 1:06 a.m. That marathon broke the big-league record for the longest 18-inning doubleheader by 14 minutes.
Someone had to step up to jolt the drooping Sox. Maybe left fielder Dayan Viciedo had the best chance. He had more rest than most of his teammates, starting in the ninth inning of Game 1 on Friday and throughout the nightcap. A bonehead base running blunder, overrunning third and being tagged out in no-man’s land, will help you grab some bench in Robin Ventura’s world.
Moping going forward isn’t allowed by Ventura, either. So even though the somewhat enigmatic Viciedo couldn’t single-handedly save the Sox in their 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians, he did more than his manager could have expected.
Sometimes clunky defensively, Viciedo made two great catches in left field in the first and third innings. His second-inning single figured in the Sox’s first run. He drove in another with a single to cap a two-run third. And he was left stranded at second after doubling in the seventh.
“Based on (Friday), I tried to stay as calm as possible and just played hard today,” Viciedo said through interpreter Lou Hernandez. “I tried to not let that carry over to today and play hard in the field, have good at-bats and have the day that I had, which is good considering (Friday).”
Viciedo, still just 24, is part of the large cadre of slumping Sox at .237 with just 23 RBIs even after his big day. Ventura knows how to balance the kick in the butt with the pat on the back, a specific story within the bigger story of a fracturing season.
“He’s fine,” Ventura said of Viciedo. “Today, energy-wise, he was up and ready to go. Swinging the bat, he was a lot better, too. There was something that seemed a little calmer with him.
“There’s part of that (shaking up yourself), growing into what you’re going to be…For him, going through hard stuff is the hardest thing a player will do, especially young to be able to get through it. Eventually when you get through it, it makes you better for the rest of your career.”
Ventura also knew not to go to double-duty man Casper Wells for a second day in a row. In the doubleheader, Wells became the first player since the Twins’ Dan Gladden in 1989 to pitch in one game of the twin bill and start the other game in the field.
“Right now, my shoulder’s a little stiff,” Wells said before Saturday’s game. “Obviously I’m not used to throwing with that kind of intensity for that amount of time and that many pitches…Take a couple of Aleve or something, and be ready to go.”
Maybe that will work for Viciedo, too. Tapping into his yet-unrealized potential will liven up the upcoming long march to the end of the season.
This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at DGemsNet@aol.com.