After he ran full speed into the fence trying to track down what turned out to be a home run by Adam Rosales during an Aug. 6 game against the Texas Rangers, Adam Eaton was initially able to laugh it off.
"The outfield field wall at U.S. Cellular Field: 1, Adam Eaton: 0," he tweeted.
But as Eaton languishes on the disabled list for the second time this season, the Sox' devil-may-care center fielder is beginning to realize his reckless play has become a serious concern.
If you've seen the clip of Eaton hitting the fence at full force, the first reaction is likely -- how is he not out for the season?
"After it happened I asked Paul (Konerko), 'When am I going to learn just to kind of think a little bit more in those situations?'" Eaton said.
The White Sox are starting to ask the same question.
On the one hand, they want the 25-year-old outfielder to continue bringing needed energy to the field every day and playing with an aggressive style.
On the other, they want Eaton to understand the importance of self preservation.
On Monday, the Sox optioned outfielder Jordan Danks to Class AAA Charlotte, clearing the way for Eaton (oblique) to come off the DL and play against the Indians Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Eaton
The White Sox are hoping Eaton thought long and hard about the importance of staying healthy during his second stay on the DL this season.
"Well, we did talk earlier in the year about the headfirst slide and stuff like that, which obviously has played a role in some of his issues," general manager Rick Hahn said. "I think he's learned a little bit about himself in terms of, I don't want to say toning it down, because part of what makes him good is that aggressiveness, but sort of being more selectively aggressive as a means of preserving his health."
Acquired in a three-way trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks last winter, this is Eaton's first full season in the major leagues.
In addition to learning how to approach opposing pitchers at the plate and opposing hitters in center field, Eaton is obviously learning how fast he can run his engine before it crashes.
"Guys are going to get hurt but I think there are ways for guys to manage it," manager Robin Ventura said. "This is not a guy that's played 10 years, so he's got stuff that he'll learn as he goes along, like how important he is to the team to when to run face-first into the wall and when not to when the ball's 10 feet over the fence. So hopefully he can learn that."
When he's not slamming into fences, Eaton is actually an above-average defensive outfielder, and he uses his standout speed to track down drives to the gaps on either side of center.
His bat has been an even bigger bonus, and the left-hander ranks ninth in the American League with a .304 average and ninth with a .370 on-base percentage.
Since he's been on the DL, the White Sox have gone 4-9 and scored 4 runs or more just three times.
"We view him as an important part going forward," Hahn said. "We see the way the offense functions a little bit better when he's at the top playing the way he can play. He knows that. He knows he needs to be out there in order to help us."