Second time around: Adam Eaton says he's matured as a player, will be a better teammate

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago White Sox's Adam Eaton hits a triple against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, California.

    Chicago White Sox's Adam Eaton hits a triple against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, California. Associated Press/April 4, 2016

 
 
Updated 12/11/2020 6:43 AM

General manager Rick Hahn acknowledges Adam Eaton's first run in a White Sox uniform was far from smooth.

"From time to time, he might have said a few things that rubbed people the wrong way," Hahn said.

 

Todd Frazier was definitely rubbed the wrong way, and after at least two physical confrontations with his locker mate in 2016, Eaton relocated to the other side of the Sox's clubhouse.

There was the bizarre backing of Adam LaRoche's son Drake, being involved in Chris Sale's equally odd decision to cut up uniforms and a mocking from teammates after Eaton declared himself "the straw that stirs the drink."

On the flip side, Eaton was productive on the field for the White Sox from 2014-16, batting .290/.362/.422 while playing above-average defense in right field.

After spending the last four seasons with the Washington Nationals and winning a World Series ring in 2019, Eaton officially rejoined the Sox on Thursday on a one-year, $7 million contract. The deal also includes an $8.5 million club option for 2022 with a $1 million buyout.

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"I think Rick and the organization have done a tremendous job putting this team in position to win, and win right now," Eaton said. "Joining a group of guys who really need no introduction, they've come on the scene and had a lot of success, and I'm just thrilled to be here to help them out in any way, shape or form."

Known for his ability to work the count and put the ball in play, Eaton also brings back something the White Sox liked when they first got him in a trade from the Diamondbacks in 2013.

"When he and I spoke the other night before this deal was done, he brought up again being a 19th-round (draft) pick," Hahn said. "He's a guy who has always been doubted and plays with that kind of an edge of trying to prove to you and prove to everyone that those doubts are unfounded.

"We like that competitiveness and we also know that edge, or the way he approaches the game, is aimed at trying to beat you. That's a positive. Sure, during the first tenure from time to time he might have said a few things, but it came from the nature of that competitiveness, of that desire to prove that he belonged and that he was a winner."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Eaton said he has matured as a player and is better equipped to be a better teammate the second time around.

If he's able to stay healthy, the 32-year-old veteran should be the Sox's primary right fielder. He got off to a slow start with the Nationals last season and missed the final two weeks with a broken left index finger.

Eaton, who also missed most of the 2017 season with a knee injury, hit .226/.285/.384 with 4 home runs and 17 RBI over 41 games in his final year with Washington.

"One of the more inconsistent years," Eaton said. "In 60 games, it was kind of a mental battle for me. Usually I start slow but in a 162-game schedule can pick that up and evolve, making good adjustments. It was a tough year on me and I wasn't real thrilled with it. But I'm happy Chicago has confidence in me to bounce back and hopefully produce for the team."

• In the major-league phase of Thursday's Rule 5 draft, the Cubs selected right-handed pitcher Gray Fenter from the Orioles. He cost the Cubs $50,000 and must remain on the active roster the entire 2021 season or be offered back to Baltimore.

Pitching for high Class A Delmarva in the Orioles' system in 2019, Fenter was 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA in 22 games (17 starts).

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