If there was one thing to take away from Sunday afternoon’s ballgame between the White Sox and the visiting Minnesota Twins it was this: the impact players are already quite obvious.
Whether manager Rick Renteria will continue to change his lineup so much throughout the season remains to be seen but on Sunday afternoon Matt Davidson, Tyler Saladino, and Geovany Soto all sat out. The trio have combined for four home runs, eight runs batted-in, and eight runs scored through the first five games of the 2017 season. White Sox fans have become too familiar with starting pitcher Jose Quintana not receiving the run support he deserves, and with those three players out of the lineup it seemed like Quintana was doomed for failure before he even threw a pitch.
In a season where it seemed unlikely that Matt Davidson would even make the team he sure has shown why he deserves to be at the Big League level, so to sit him on the bench for a game made me raise my eyebrow a little higher than usual. The third baseman already has a home run and a triple on the season, proving that he’s more than capable of moving runners along when he gets to the plate.
Thursday’s series finale against the Tigers saw catcher Geovany Soto crack two home runs in a game for the first time since September of 2011. Sox fans who have been following the team for a few years know that is uncanny production from the catcher position, and you could quickly file that under the category of “things we would all like to see a lot more of.” Many fans were skeptical of the acquisition when it was reported in the offseason but Soto has shown that he’s here to play ball, so why not let him?
Tyler Saladino seems to have stepped into the “spark plug” role that Adam Eaton previously filled. The mustachioed menace is already 2-for-3 when leading off a game and 2-for-4 when leading off an inning, doing his part to get on base for the boppers behind him. He’s also managed to draw three walks for a .500 on-base percentage through four games. I’ll admit that the sample size is small but those statistics show that he is setting the team up for success here in the early going.
If the lineup tinkering is going to happen at any point in the season it may as well be in the first couple of weeks. The players absent from Sunday’s game should be regulars while they are producing, and I would be really surprised to see any of them out of the lineup for Tuesday’s game in Cleveland. Keep them in and grab the wins while you can.