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updated: 8/3/2014 9:02 PM

Eaton a bright spot at top of White Sox order

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  • White Sox center fielder and leadoff man Adam Eaton scores a run against the Twins.

      White Sox center fielder and leadoff man Adam Eaton scores a run against the Twins.
    Associated Press

 
 

Pablo Ozuna. Jerry Owens. Nick Swisher, for gosh sakes. Alexei Ramirez. Dewayne Wise. Juan Pierre. Alejandro De Aza.

Since Scott Podsednik's successful -- albeit brief -- stint ended after the 2006 season, the White Sox have been looking for a reliable leadoff hitter.

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As all the forgettable names in the opening paragraph suggest, they are not easy to find, but Sox general manager Rick Hahn appears to finally have plugged the persistent hole.

"He fights through every at-bat," Hahn said. "He leaves everything on the field. He's got aggressive personality traits that we like and are going to help add to the clubhouse and improve our mix there."

"He" is Adam Eaton, and Hahn made that statement after acquiring the scrappy center fielder in a three-way trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels on Dec. 10.

Some eight months later, Hahn's description was pretty much spot-on.

Eaton didn't make an instant impact at the top of the White Sox' lineup, scuffling early while learning new pitchers in a new league and spending the first two weeks of May on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

Now that he has 90 games under his belt and his legs are relatively healthy, Eaton is making a major impact.

"He's been hot," manager Robin Ventura said. "I mean, even when he hits it at somebody they can't catch it. He's just been putting it (bat) on the ball. I think the injury might've helped in some way of just shortening up his swing.

"Sometimes when that happens, guys don't like to swing and miss, so they're very conscious about making sure they make good contact."

Eaton singled in the third inning Sunday to stretch his hitting streak to 10 games, and the left-hander has reached base safely in 20 straight.

"I just go out there and compete every day," he said. "I'm going to go out there and compete every day, and I'll make little adjustments here and there. I definitely think it helps seeing the pitchers over and over and over again, learning the league a little bit more and learning how other guys hit in front and behind.

"My job is to keep the line moving, so I go out and try to do that to the best of my ability."

Eaton has been doing just that, and over his last 20 games he's batting .435 (37-for-85). For the season he's hitting .305.

"When he continues to get on base and do all those things, we're just better," Ventura said. "Guys at the top of the order that set the table, that's what they do."

While his bat is making the biggest impact, Eaton's playing solid defense as well. With his standout speed, he covers as much ground as any center fielder in the game and also has a surprisingly strong throwing arm.

"I was not aware he was as good of a center fielder as he is," Ventura said. "We didn't get that report, at least I didn't.

"He covers a lot of ground, has a great arm; that's the stuff that you don't really know until you get somebody here. You see balls hit here the last couple years and you wonder where he's going to be at, but he gets great jumps on balls and it's been a really good find for us."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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