CHICAGO | Alex Rios said all the right things before Friday’s 6-4 White Sox loss to the Atlanta Braves.
“You should do this with a passion. And put your best effort every night out there,” Rios said amid a lost season team-wise and with trade rumors swirling 12 days before the July 31 deadline.
“This is what you do and what you get paid for. It doesn’t matter what rumors or things are going around. You just have to go about your business the same way when nothing is being said.”
For whatever reason, the Sox right fielder chose to ignore his very words in the sixth inning. He did not run out a double-play grounder. And in front of a convention of scouts, some of whom no doubt were watching him for a potential trade, Rios was yanked from the game by manager Robin Ventura.
Now you wonder what the scouts will report back to their front offices, given they like the Sox pitchers far more than their position players.
“We expect more than that,” Ventura said. “It was simple, nothing more than that.
“There’s expectations, and we’re not starting off the second half that way. He’ll be back in. Tonight, that’s what happens when you don’t run.”
Rios will get a second chance today even as he sports a black mark on the scouting reports. Ventura said he’ll return to the lineup as the scouts keenly watch Jake Peavy’s first start after coming back from a broken rib.
Included among the scouts were two former Cubs general managers now re-employed – Jim Hendry with the Yankees and Ed Lynch repping the Blue Jays. Earthy Pete Vuckovich (an original Sox back in the 1970s) of the Mariners also was in the house, among others.
The talent evaluators all want to pluck the Sox of their best parts. They won’t get them, of course — the Chris Sales or Jose Quintanas. It’s a bit of a waiting game — to see another Matt Lindstrom outing, coming back today to watch Jake Peavy’s first start after mending a broken rib, and holding on until Jesse Crain’s shoulder is fine.
Rios initially helped his salability with a two-run double in the third. But it’s apparent the scouts want Sox pitching far more than members of their broken lineup.
Bring up center fielder/wannabe left fielder Alejandro De Aza, and one scout said he’s really just a fourth outfielder. Tell that to Ventura, who pencils in De Aza to lead off every day.
It all sounds like if Sox GM Rick Hahn wants a big return, he’ll have to trade Peavy, surely a No. 2 starter on a contender. Or really gamble by trading, say, Hector Santiago.
Rios has been connected to a possible deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have a couple of lineup holes. He has only one more year guaranteed on his contract, logically helping his marketability.
Now, you wonder if Hahn’s best-laid plans are out the window because one man’s words couldn’t translate into deeds.