When talking about a White Sox season that had long gone bad last August, vice president Kenny Williams already had an eye on making changes for 2014.
"One of the things we certainly have to have a little bit more of is that edge," Williams said. "You've got to have an edge about you as a team and a grind about you that is relentless. I have not seen that.
"One of the things, looking at toward the end of the year and looking into the off-season, when I'm asked the question in my current position from our coaching staff or (general manager) Rick (Hahn) in terms of them coming with a player they want to bring in, I'm going to ask the question: 'Does he have that grind to him? Does he have that edge to him, that attitude to him?'
"Because you need a few guys in your dugout that are going to push. They may not be the most popular guy around, but they'll push some of the other guys or they'll keep it light. Some guys you have to have around to keep it light so that when you do struggle there isn't a panic situation."
Four months later, Williams and the Sox got their guy -- Adam Eaton.
On Dec. 10, Hahn acquired the 25-year-old center fielder in a three-way trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks, with versatile left-handed pitcher Hector Santiago moving from the White Sox to the Los Angeles Angels.
"This is a dirt-bag baseball player," Hahn said after the deal was completed at the winter meetings. "We were looking to give ourselves an edge that we were lacking a little bit in recent months. He's a real nice kid for us. He's one of the names at the top of our target list."
Eaton, a left-handed hitter, is best known for batting .375 with 47 doubles, 5 triples, 7 home runs, 48 RBI, 130 runs scored, 44 stolen bases and a .456 on-base percentage in 130 games with Class AAA Reno and AA Mobile in 2012.
He was named Pacific Coast League MVP and led all full-season minor leaguers in batting average, doubles, runs scored and hits while ranking second in OBP.
Now, the question is: Can Eaton get it done at the major-league level?
After missing most of the first half of last season with a sprained ligament in his left elbow, Eaton played in 66 games with the Diamondbacks and batted .252 with 10 doubles, 4 triples, 3 home runs and 22 RBI.
If self-confidence counts, Eaton should easily surpass those numbers in his first season with the White Sox.
"I would like to think I'm kind of a Lenny Dykstra/Kenny Lofton mix," he said. "Kind of a guy that's going to be a scrappy dirt-bag guy and get after it day in and day out. But hopefully I'll bring a little finesse, bring a little speed and quickness and score some runs. If I can hang my hat on a .300 (batting average), score 100 runs with an on-base percentage around .400, I think I'd have a heck of a year.
"I think it's definitely doable. That's what I'm shooting for this coming year."
Alejandro De Aza is still on the Sox' roster, and if he's not traded, he's the obvious backup in center field.
If De Aza is moved, Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell are the leading two candidates to come off the bench and give Eaton a break.
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