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updated: 8/17/2014 8:08 PM

Gillaspie making case to be White Sox mainstay at 3B

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  • Conor Gillaspie celebrates his first career grand slam with teammates Avisail Garcia, right, and Adam Dunn, left, during the White Sox' 6-run first inning Sunday against the Blue Jays.

      Conor Gillaspie celebrates his first career grand slam with teammates Avisail Garcia, right, and Adam Dunn, left, during the White Sox' 6-run first inning Sunday against the Blue Jays.
    Associated Press

 
 

By now, Matt Davidson was expected to be the White Sox' starting third baseman and another young piece of the burgeoning core.

Davidson has the prototypical power bat, and the Sox paid a big price to get him in a trade, sending closer Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Dec. 16.

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But more than four months into the season, Davidson is still at Class AAA Charlotte. He ranks among International League leaders with 19 home runs, but the 144 strikeouts in 424 at-bats and .205 batting average heading into Sunday have raised serious questions about Davidson's major-league future.

Current White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie, meanwhile, continues stating his case for a future on the South Side.

"He's getting better at third base, so I think the way he swings the bat he's definitely a piece that you like and he's a good player," manager Robin Ventura said after Gillaspie hit his first career grand slam in Sunday's 7-5 win over Toronto. "I think on winning teams he's going to be a good player."

The Sox like to think they'll be a winning team as soon as 2015, and there is a lot to like about the unassuming Gillaspie.

The 27-year-old third baseman ranks seventh in the American League with a .311 batting average, he has struck out just 58 times in 360 at-bats, and he is a reliable defender.

The only thing missing is the power. Sunday's slam was Gillaspie's fifth home run of the season.

"He's got it in there," Ventura said. "It's not like you wouldn't expect him to hit home runs, but he's just a line-drive hitter. When he hits it good it's going to go. He's got more power to come, but you don't really want to take it away from him and make him try to become something that maybe he's not.

"He's a line-drive hitter first, and the power comes with it. We always knew he can swing the bat. He's a good hitter."

Gillaspie hit 13 homers in 408 at-bats last season but has changed his approach this year.

"Like I've been telling you guys all year, I try not to give away at-bats," he said. "It's a bad feeling when you go up there and for whatever reason you don't compete or you take an at-bat off. No matter what the results are, that's a bad feeling.

"I went through it a lot last year and I've been through it at times this year, so I always try to do my best to do the right thing when I'm up there. I try to think ahead.

"The home runs are great, but at the end of the day if I'm not giving away at-bats I at least know I'm putting in the effort and I didn't take at-bats off."

Gillaspie rarely shows emotion, and he's not worried about his future with the White Sox either.

"I let them make those decisions," he said. "But I know that if I go out there and compete and battle and fight, it's hard to do every day. It's hard day in and day out to play nine innings.

"That's the hardest part of this game, so I feel like the more I can get a grasp on playing every day, the more I can constantly grind out at-bats. I think at the end of the day I can hold my head high regardless of what happens."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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