Fields suffers setback in competition

Fields suffers setback in competition

PHOENIX -- Josh Fields left Wednesday's game in Tucson, Ariz., with a welt near his right wrist as an unwanted souvenir and one small regret.

"I was saying this back in the training room," said Fields with a resigned smile, speaking after batting practice prior to Thursday's Cactus League contest with the Dodgers. "I should have swung at the first-pitch fastball he threw me."

Fields took that first pitch from the Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez and was drilled by the next offering. He exited the game in the first inning with a bruise and did not start on Thursday, but did pinch-hit and ripped a first-pitch single to left field in the eighth inning. Fields figured to start at least one of the two remaining weekend road games in the Phoenix valley area, adding how gripping the ball for a throw is causing him the biggest problem right now.

With only six games left in Arizona before the White Sox break camp for an exhibition game against the Rangers in Oklahoma City next Friday, followed by the Civil Rights Game against the Mets in Memphis on March 29, any slight injury or misstep would seem to hamper a player such as Fields in the middle of a position battle. But the young slugger finds himself in a different sort of competition at third, based more on the open market value for Joe Crede, as opposed to the top performer throughout Spring Training.

Getting hit by the Jimenez pitch stopped Fields' momentum at the plate, more than anything else.

"It felt like I was getting close to regular-season-ready," said Fields of his improving offense, which has yielded seven hits in his last 15 at-bats.

Instead, Fields must wait an extra day or two to get back into action, and waiting already has become the hardest part in his present situation. With the White Sox facing off against the Dodgers on Thursday, the topic obviously turned to Los Angeles' vacancy at third base following injuries suffered by Andy LaRoche and Nomar Garciaparra.

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A talented veteran such as Crede, who is set to earn $5.1 million this year, would seem to be a solid stopgap option for the Dodgers. But Los Angeles general manager Ned Colletti said Thursday the team was not looking outside of the organization to fill this void.

Crede's defense continues to show strong during Spring Training, even if his bat isn't close to matching that particular level. So, why does there appear to be such a lack of interest for a player of Crede's value, especially when healthy? White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has his own ideas.

"This game has gotten to being a bunch of political, a bunch of budget, a bunch of [garbage]," Guillen said. "They forgot about the talent. Some player makes a lot of money and has a little injury, so they don't want to take the risk.

"That happened to me when I hurt my knee. All of a sudden I went from superstar to [garbage]. I could still play, but no one believed I was healthy enough to take a chance with me. That's not just a Crede problem. That's a lot of players' problems.

"Everyone is worried about money," Guillen added. "He was hurt and that's why no one is willing to spend the money on him."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.