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Manto reinforcing hitters' game plan - MLB.com

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Manto reinforcing hitters' game plan - MLB.com
Apr 8th 2012, 01:58

ARLINGTON -- If the 0-for-7 showing with runners in scoring position Friday sounds somewhat familiar, it's probably because the 2011 White Sox finished with a .239 average in those same situations and dipped to .218 with the bases loaded.

Of course, the look of the offense has changed from last year, with young players maturing and struggling hitters in search of bounce-back seasons. And Friday's failure represents one game in the scheme of 162.

White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto still believes things can be done by his charges to be more successful with chances to score runs.

"It's making sure you have the ability to change your plan," Manto said. "Some guys pitch different with a man on third base, where they might throw a lot more sinkers. They won't want a pitch thrown that can be hit in the air.

"Once it snowballs, it sometimes gets out of hand but right now, it's just in one game and it's not alarming. Yet, the concentration level should go up, and change your plan a little bit and look for one pitch specifically."

Manto believes the White Sox offense will be versatile and flexible, with a balance of "bangers," "pure hitters" and "young guys trying to establish themselves." He also feels that this group possesses the ability to be solid situational hitters, doing the little things that also will help with runners in scoring position, and not solely relying on the long ball.

"Oh, without question," Manto said. "These guys, their resume speaks for themselves. So, it's not me trying to add any kind of things to them. It's just reminding them.

"The only thing I'm looking for is if they prepare every day, they follow the plan which we talk about individually and collectively and bring it to the table every night. It's easier said than done. But if they have a plan every night and try to have quality at-bats, I'll be fine with that."

Reed finds success with new pitch

ARLINGTON -- Addison Reed didn't start throwing a cutter until about a month ago, when White Sox bullpen coach Juan Nieves was playing around with his pitch grips and had him throw it. The rookie right-hander broke out about three or four during his scoreless seventh in Friday's 3-2 loss and liked the results.

"I've liked it ever since I threw it for the first time in the 'pen," said Reed. "It's a pitch that is still developing, but I feel pretty good about it. It's not that much different from my slider, grip-wise and the way you throw it."

Reed had been focusing on refining his changeup during the early portion of Spring Training. But he stuck to fastballs and cutters in retiring the Rangers' Yorvit Torrealba and Ian Kinsler on fly balls and catching David Murphy looking. Reed does plan to work the changeup back into rotation this season.

"Once I start seeing teams more often," Reed said. "That way they aren't just sitting on the two pitches. They see I have that third pitch and I can throw it for a strike."

Flowers, Lillibridge get quick look off bench

ARLINGTON -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura put right-handed-hitting catcher Tyler Flowers and right-handed-hitting left fielder Brent Lillibridge into Saturday's starting lineup, partially because of Rangers left-hander Derek Holland but also just to get his bench players early work.

"I want to get guys in there as soon as we can. I'm sure in Cleveland that [Eduardo] Escobar and [Kosuke] Fukudome will get a start," said Ventura, whose team opens a three-game series against the Indians on Monday.

"Just to kind of get the season going. I don't want guys sitting on the bench for six or seven days and then going home but not having played yet. We have confidence to put them in and to fill in when they need to fill in."

Dayan Viciedo and A.J. Pierzynski got the night off, with both expected to return to the starting lineup Sunday.

Beckham not straying from approach

ARLINGTON -- Although he struck out three times in Friday's 3-2 season-opening loss to the Rangers, finishing 1-for-4, Gordon Beckham certainly doesn't want to overanalyze the season opener.

"Everybody wants to make the first game a big deal. I'm going to do the opposite and make it less of a deal," Beckham said. "Last year, I went 3-for-4 on the first day.

"It's all relative. [After] a couple of months, you look up and we'll see where we are at. It's time to go out there and do our thing. You can't worry about the ups and downs of the day before. Even if you do good, you can't worry. You roll on that but can't worry about it either way."

Adam Dunn, who tied a Major League record with his eighth career Opening Day home run, said that he was most pleased by sticking with his approach that he followed throughout Spring Training. Beckham felt the same consistency within his at-bats.

"I felt like I was disciplined yesterday," Beckham said. "You know, I scraped out a knock. It wasn't a great day for knocks. Unfortunately, that didn't play yesterday. But if I stay with that, I think it will."

Third to first

• Despite Alejandro De Aza being caught stealing in the first inning of Friday's 3-2 loss and finishing 3-for-8 on the basepaths during Spring Training, White Sox manager Robin Ventura doesn't want him to slow down.

"No, I want him to be aggressive," Ventura said. "I want him to be able to go out there and feel confident about trying to get a big jump. He's going to get thrown out. We'll have guys that probably will get thrown out, but it won't stop us from running."

• Ventura knows the White Sox start the season with the Rangers, Indians and Tigers, but hasn't really focused on the big picture of this 10-game stretch. He's just worried about the Rangers.

"We haven't looked that far ahead," Ventura said. "Really, we're looking right here and looking at these games. We'll worry about the other ones when we play them. As far as the coaching staff looks ahead, we get our paperwork. But the focus is still here in Arlington."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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