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updated: 7/20/2013 9:33 PM

Rios back in lineup, slams White Sox to victory

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  • The White Sox' Alex Rios watches his grand slam sail to the seats in the third inning Saturday against the Braves.

      The White Sox' Alex Rios watches his grand slam sail to the seats in the third inning Saturday against the Braves.
    Associated Press

 
 

"Rios don't run the bases; that's why I got him out of the game. It's not the first time it happened."

No, that's not a quote from White Sox manager Robin Ventura, who pulled right fielder Alex Rios out of Friday night's game against the Atlanta Braves after he failed to run hard to first base in the fifth inning.

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That's a quote from former manager Ozzie Guillen after he lifted Rios from a June game at Colorado in 2011.

Easily the Sox' best all-around player when he's completely focused, Rios has tended to stray off course from time to time since former general manager Kenny Williams claimed him off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 10, 2009.

Rios was guilty of dogging it down the first-base line Friday, Ventura calmly explained why he was benched, and that was apparently the end of the controversy.

On Saturday, however, Rios was miffed about being pulled from the game. The 32-year-old outfielder did not make himself available to the media after Friday's game.

Rios started off on the right foot with reporters when asked about the incident.

"Well it's a situation that none of us wants to be a part of," he said. "It's unacceptable behavior, and there's a little bit of frustration in that behavior. I'm not using that as an excuse for what happened."

After that, Rios lashed out at Ventura.

"It could've been managed in a better way, but it's something that shouldn't have happened," Rios said. "I'm cool with (Ventura). He has to do what he has to do, you know? But the situation could've been handled a little better. But he has to do what he has to do."

How could Ventura have handled the situation better?

"If he wants to send a message to myself, it would've gone through better if he put me in his office and talked to me personally, you know?" Rios said. "If he wants to make a statement for the team, it probably worked.

"But I don't know what his intentions were. But that's what I wanted to see."

Upon hearing Rios' remarks, Ventura could have easily escalated the controversy. But that's not his style.

"I understand that, but again, you're handling it for 25 guys," Ventura said. "I get where he's coming from, but from where I'm coming from he probably understands how I have to do it. That was just simple. and it was handled and you go on from there."

As a sign the incident was over, Ventura put Rios back in the starting lineup Saturday. It was a wise decision, as Rios helped power the Sox to a 10-6 win.

Trailing Atlanta 4-0, the White Sox rallied with 5 runs in the third inning. After Alexei Ramirez got things started with an RBI single off Braves starter Paul Maholm, Rios put the Sox in front with a grand slam.

Rios (3-for-5, 5 RBI) also had a run-scoring single in the fourth inning.

Was he motivated by Friday?

"I go about my business the same way every day," Rios said. "It doesn't matter what happens the day before or whatever. I try to do the same things every day and try to put forth my best performance.

"I felt a little better today, yeah. It has been awhile since I've hit the ball hard. But you know what, today was a good game. It got my confidence a little up.

"Hopefully I can keep doing what I did today. What I try to do is try to be consistent at hitting the ball hard. I don't mind the results. If you hit the ball hard, you have a chance of doing good things throughout the season."

Ventura said he wasn't trying to motivate Rios by pulling him out of Friday's game.

"The other day he was 6-for-6 (at Detroit), so there's nothing going on there," Ventura said. "He's just a good player and he had a good day. He came up at the right times and hits a grand slam and gets some big hits to help us win.

"I don't think it had anything to do with last night because he's a good player, and it's been proven before."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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