Ventura balancing bevy of infielders

Ventura balancing bevy of infielders

CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura has faced his fair share of dilemmas this season, but the most recent is one he's probably glad to have, having gone from a limited infield to one with a multitude of combinations.

Following the addition of Mike Olt (claimed from the Cubs) and the callup of Micah Johnson, Ventura needs to decide how best to strike a balance between adding power and maintaining defense.

Ventura already has veterans Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham to go along with rookies Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez, but those four have excelled primarily on defense. That doesn't even factor in utility man Leury Garcia or the possible callup of Matt Davidson.

Entering Wednesday, Olt had hit 2-for-11 in his three appearances with the White Sox, but he had not seen Major League pitching since April, when he had 15 total at-bats before sustaining a wrist injury.

"I think first he's got to get his feet wet, just being here and getting acclimated with that," Ventura said. "I hadn't seen him play a lot of third base, so to see him move around, and the action with his feet and everything, he's been good. It's been a pleasant surprise.

"Hitting-wise, I think that's still a little bit rusty, because he hadn't played in probably a week. But it's kind of getting re-acclimated to it. But as far as his pop and stuff like that, you like seeing it."

Olt is vying for playing time with Saladino, who has been the primary third baseman since he joined the team in early July. Saladino was batting just .240 with 19 RBIs and three home runs, having dropped off in August.

"[Olt will] probably get the majority of that time as we go through the rest of September, depending on matchups and things like that," Ventura said. "We'll be able to mix and match with him in there, but I would say he would get the majority of it."

Johnson is not as strong in the field, but he did bring eight homers and 36 RBIs with him from the Minor Leagues. He hit .270 in 27 games with the White Sox this season after starting on Opening Day.

Ventura doesn't have plans to move Johnson around. For now he'll rely on matchups to determine whom he inserts into the lineup.

"We've got enough guys where we don't need to move him around," Ventura said.

Sitting fourth in the American League Central, the White Sox have no need to rush, but it could help solidify their plans for the offseason if someone could emerge late in the season.

"We do have the opportunity with a fair amount of new faces up here right now to learn about our young guys," said general manager Rick Hahn. "Hopefully, they'll also be put in a position where they can help us win a ballgame. That would be beneficial."

Greg Garno is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.