Through two Cactus League games, Chicago White Sox right fielder Alex Rios is picking up where he left off in 2012. Going 3 for 4 with two doubles, a triple and one RBI in the White Sox first two Spring Training Games, Rios seems to be in midseason form.
With a .304 AVG/.516 SLG/.850 OPS last season, much has been made about Rios having a let down year in 2013. But with a blazing start to Cactus League play, so far so good for the 32-year-old outfielder. For Sox fans this impressive start is pleasing, but it is only Spring Training and we still have over a month till Opening Day. If you’re a Team Puerto Rico fan however, Rios’ early success increases optimism for a run at a World Baseball Classic Championship.
Selected to play for Team Puerto Rico in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Rios figures to be a key factor in Puerto Rico’s outfield. Ranked 12th by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), Team Puerto Rico has a realistic shot at a WBC Championship. That being said, with Team Puerto Rico in Pool C, they will have to beat out highly ranked Team Venezuela and Team Dominican Republic in order to advance in the WBC.
Although Rios isn’t the only talented player on Team Puerto Rico, his production will be vital to their success. His role with Team Puerto Rico is a lot like his role with the White Sox for 2013. There may be other All-Stars playing along side him for both Team Puerto Rico and the Sox, but I believe Rios can be the difference maker for each squad. If the right fielder shines, Team Puerto Rico and the White Sox have a chance to make some noise in 2013. And while it is only two spring games, the quick start for Rios is very encouraging for fans in Puerto Rico and Chicago.
Team Puerto Rico opens the World Baseball Classic against Team Spain on Mar. 8 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Rios’ performance in the Classic should provide Sox fans with a preview of what’s to come for 2013. Not having Rios in camp for most of March isn’t ideal for the White Sox, but if he can have a solid WBC, his outlook for another productive MLB season is bright.