CHICAGO | It might have been like a bad Hollywood script, but it still was a good day in real life Saturday for Alex Rios in playing above the fences.
And perhaps the outcome proved an even better day for White Sox general manager Rick Hahn.
As scouts again swarmed U.S. Cellular Field, Hahn might have salvaged Rios’ trade prospects temporarily dimmed by his failure to run out a double-play grounder Friday night.
Sox manager Robin Ventura gave right fielder Rios all the chance to redeem himself after pulling him from that game for his lack of hustle. Sure enough, Rios came through in “B movie” style with a grand-slam homer, five RBIs and three hits overall in the Sox’s 10-6 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
“It doesn’t matter what happens the day before,” Rios said of the abrupt benching. “I try to do the same things every day.”
Ventura also soft-pedaled any carryover.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with last night,” he said. “He’s a good player and it’s been proven before.”
Rios warmed up for his third-inning slam off ex-Cub Paul Maholm with single to right in the first inning. He added an RBI single in the fourth. The round-tripper broke a 120 at-bat homerless drought since June 9 against Oakland.
Rios was contrite just minutes after the Sox clubhouse opened to reporters Saturday morning.
“It was unacceptable behavior,” he said. “There was a little bit of frustration in that behavior. I’m not using that as an excuse to what happened. It’s something that shouldn’t happen."
Ventura said the issue was settled as soon as he pulled Rios from the game, then told reporters afterward Rios would start Saturday. Rios said he was fine with Ventura, although he thought a chat in the manager’s office would have more easily calmed the waters.
“If he wants to send a message (individually), it would have gone through better if he put me in his office and talked to me personally,” he said.
Rios denied trade rumors involving his future were involved in his frustration. He repeated his desire to remain a White Sox with a guaranteed contract through next season.
“It feels like I’m at home right now,” he said.
Rios made the same kind of quick escape from Ventura’s doghouse as Dayan Viciedo pulled. On June 29, Viciedo had three hits and two great catches in left field a day after being pulled in the top of the ninth due to poor baserunning.
The grand slam covered over a slightly-shaky early-game rhythm for Jake Peavy in his first outing since suffering a fractured rib June 4.
Also the subject of trade rumors, Peavy (7-4) had an acceptable performance for the scouts with two earned runs yielded in six innings.