Keeping it simple in any spot, Eaton has career night

Outfielder, who has moved around lineup, sets table with 4 hits from leadoff spot

Keeping it simple in any spot, Eaton has career night

MIAMI -- Adam Eaton finished an otherwise flawless Friday with a strikeout in the top of the eighth inning during a 4-2 White Sox victory over the Marlins.

As he walked back to the visitors' dugout, a smiling White Sox manager Robin Ventura had one question for him.

"He said, 'You had four hits today. Why didn't you try to hit a home run?'" said Eaton with a laugh. "I told him that I'm not a three-hole hitter or a two-hole hitter, I have to get on base for the guys behind me.

"There was nobody out. He just shook his head and said, 'You have to think three-hole hitter in that instance.' I said, 'No, no, no. I have to get on base for the guys behind me.'"

Eaton could be excused if his offensive focus gets a little discombobulated from time to time. As he did in Friday's victory, he's hit in the leadoff spot 79 times during the 2016 season, but he's also batted second on 28 occasions and hit third in five games.

These changes don't seem to make a difference to Eaton, who matched a career high with the four hits. He singled and scored in a two-run first and then helped set up a third run in the second with another single, giving Carlos Rodon an early cushion against a talented young team.

"It doesn't bother him too much. I think he enjoys moving around a little bit," Ventura said. "I know he can hit down in the order. There are just times I think it's a little better to get T.A. [Tim Anderson] a little further down at the bottom.

"He's versatile enough, plays center, plays right, nothing really affects him too much. He just plays his game. In the past he might have tried to adopt wherever he was and try to be that guy. Right now he just plays. He doesn't overthink it."

That philosophy applied Friday to the White Sox. They arrived from Kansas City in the early-morning hours and didn't have batting practice prior to the series opener. They received necessary information about Marlins starter Andrew Cashner and just went out and hit.

Keep it simple and don't overthink. It's a philosophy that has worked anywhere in the lineup or in the field for Eaton.

"Hopefully it's some of my value a little bit," said Eaton, who has started 92 games in right and 18 in center. "Throw me in left and I'll be able to play there as well, as well as in the lineup. I can bat really any spot they put me in and make the best of it."

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.