Seeking spark, Ventura has Anderson lead off

Seeking spark, Ventura has Anderson lead off

CHICAGO -- Robin Ventura believes there's a good White Sox offense somewhere in the mix of this dismal June for this group. The White Sox manager watched the unit perform at more than acceptable standards during the team's 23-10 start to the 2016 season.

But with the team free-falling since May 10, Ventura is doing whatever he can to mix things up and try to find a spark. Monday's option for the series opener against the Tigers featured rookie Tim Anderson leading off and Adam Eaton hitting second.

Eaton has been the lineup's leadoff hitter in every game played for the White Sox but two, but he said Monday that he actually prefers the second spot.

"It's probably my favorite place to hit," Eaton said. "It gives me options and if T.A. gets on base, hitting and running and bunting him over and hitting into that hole as a left-handed hitter. It allows me to be able to control the bat and putting the ball in play and doing something productive.

"I enjoy it. And hitting in front of Melky [Cabrera] and Jose [Abreu] right behind me is always fun as well. It allows us to have some options, and as a hitter, you love to have options. Runner on first base with nobody out, as a left-handed hitter, you can do a lot with that. Especially with him having speed and me being able to put the ball in play a little more consistently than I am, it should be definitely a positive thing."

Ventura has come under criticism for using Jimmy Rollins as the two-hitter in 31 games before he was designated for assignment Thursday. The truth is that if the White Sox offense solely had a problem in that two-slot, the team might not be 8-22 over their last 30 entering Monday.

Alex Avila, Abreu, Cabrera and Avisail Garcia stand as the only White Sox hitters with an average above .225 in June. Eaton came into Monday mired in a .154 slump over his last 19 games, while Todd Frazier was 8-for-56 over his last 15.

Some might view Ventura's changes as those from a manager on the hot seat because his team is underperforming. Eaton is not part of that group.

"He's his own manager. He's done a heck of a job for us putting us in a position to win," Eaton said. "As players we haven't really came through here recently. It all really boils down to player performance. It has nothing to do with him. He puts us in the best position to win. It's our job to go out and produce, and when we don't, it looks bad on him."

"You mix it up a little bit and you alleviate the sameness of what the lineup is," Ventura said. "When you shake it up, you don't know what you're going to get, but having Tim in there is different."

Anderson hit leadoff this season for Triple-A Charlotte.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. 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.