Sparks sees spark in White Sox offense

Forget last season, new assistant hitting coach pleased with hitters' mindset

Sparks sees spark in White Sox offense

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Greg Sparks doesn't concern himself with the White Sox offensive showing during the 2015 season, especially since he was serving as Oakland's Minor League hitting coordinator at the time.

But the new White Sox assistant hitting coach does know the impressive look of this 2016 group through the first five weeks of Spring Training.

"There are not a lot of selfish at-bats. It's a team offense," Sparks said. "They are going at it the right way. They have the right mindset.

"Quality at-bats and team baseball, moving runners, getting runners in from third, trying to go in certain situations against the shift. If they are going to give it to us, we are going to take it. It's clicking. It's working well and we are having fun with it."

Sparks was in the Oakland organization from 1997-2015, but he worked with Chicago hitting coach Todd Steverson as part of the A's and has an understanding of the White Sox from his father's time as a first-base coach and manager in the club's Minor League system.

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In fact, part of Sparks' media guide bio talks about his stint as batboy for the 1979 White Sox, and how he was on the field for the Disco Demolition Night craziness on July 12, 1979.

"It's the wildest thing I ever experienced on a baseball field, that's for sure," said Sparks with a laugh, who was 14 and working the net for foul balls. "People were falling off the upper deck, they were tearing everything up, how it just escalated into chaos. Just the amazement of what happened. It's something I'll never forget.

"I was out on one knee on a towel, and whiskey bottles were coming down, records were sticking in the ground. Ralph Garr gave me a helmet out there, and finally my dad said, 'Get your butt in here. It's getting a little dangerous.' When the game ended and they blew those records up, it all went crazy."

Disco Demolition didn't take down Sparks, who is working with Steverson to present "two different voices, saying the same thing." That plan has produced optimism with the offense as the season approaches.

"With the additions that we got and the mindset of what's going on in that clubhouse, and their attack through BP and early work in the cages, it's really nice to see," Sparks said. "It's intensity I haven't seen in a Major League camp in a long time. They've been on it since Day 1."

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"He's a help, another mind to where we are at and where we are trying to go offensively," Steverson said of Sparks. "If I'm not around, he's around. The message stays clear and we stay flowing."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.