Since joining the White Sox in a Nov. 6 trade from the Kansas City Royals, Mark Teahen has gotten plenty of ink for twittering the alleged thoughts of his dog, Espy.
The more relevant story line is this - will Teahen bring some needed bite to the Sox' lineup and handle full-time duties as the starting third baseman?
Where we rank the top third basemen:
1. Evan Longoria, Rays
2. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
3. Michael Young, Rangers
8. MARK TEAHEN, WHITE SOX
- Scot Gregor
The White Sox obviously believe the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder is capable, which is why they signed Teahen to a three-year, $14 million contract extension in early December.
"He's a player that we always liked and he always played well against us," said Sox general manager Kenny Williams, who sent the Royals second baseman Chris Getz and third baseman/left fielder/DH Josh Fields to get Teahen. "We're just asking him to be a piece of the puzzle here, and I think he'll be able to relax and play because he's only going to play one position."
Why is Teahen playing third? Last year he rotated between four positions for the Royals - third, second, first and right field - and didn't exactly excel at any of them.
"No excuses, but it's a lot easier showing up at the ballpark when you know where you're going to be playing," Teahen said. "And I've always liked playing third base because it's my natural position. I'm excited about it."
Teahen has a big-time arm, which is critical for a third baseman. But he is not going to make any White Sox fan forget about Joe Crede on the hot corner. In 99 games at third base last year Teahen made 14 errors and had a sluggish .956 fielding percentage.
How is Teahen's bat? The left-hander looked like a rising star in 2006, hitting .290 with 18 home runs and 69 RBI in just 109 games. Teahen also drew 40 walks in 393 at-bats while posting a respectable .357 on-base percentage.
The numbers have declined in each of the past three seasons. Over that span, Teahen's batting average was .285, .255 and .271, his HR total was 7, 15 and 12, his RBI total was 60, 59 and 50 and his walk total went from 55 in 2007 to 46 to 37.
Why do the Sox expect Teahen to start hitting again? There are three reasons.
First, he is moving from a perennial last-place club to one that has been to the postseason two times in the last five years. As Williams noted, Teahen doesn't have to carry any excess weight.
Second, Teahen is going to be playing one position and that tends to eliminate anxiety at the plate.
Third, Teahen has always hit well at U.S. Cellular Field. He has 8 HR and 19 RBI at the Cell, both career highs at a visiting stadium.
Is Teahen going to be the next "bust" from Kansas City? Well, he's a position player so maybe there is some hope for the White Sox.
In recent years, Williams has acquired a string of relief pitchers from the Royals - Mike MacDougal, Andrew Sisco, Ryan Bukvich, Horacio Ramirez, Jimmy Gobble - and they've all flopped.
Teahen knows how the crowds at the Cell enjoy criticizing poor showings by the home team, but he's looking forward to playing under some pressure after spending five seasons in front of forgiving fans in Kansas City.
Who plays when Teahen needs a day off?
Wilson Betemit was the Sox' reserve third baseman last season, so just about anybody is going to be an upgrade.
Omar Vizquel and Jayson Nix enter the season as the likely backups for Teahen, and Gordon Beckham could always slide back over to third in an emergency.