When Avisail Garcia tore the labrum in his left shoulder on Apr. 9, an unexpected hole opened up in the Chicago White Sox’ outfield. It quickly became clear that the vacancy was Dayan Viciedo’s to lose. Given Viciedo’s solid hitting all season and recent strong surge at the plate, it’s clear that he intends to make 2014 his year.
Changes began in Spring Training when Viciedo worked with hitting coach Todd Steverson to improve his discipline at the plate and focus on just swinging at strikes. The results speak for themselves. Viciedo is a career .266/.292/.435 hitter in March and April, and until this year he had walked once in 117 career plate appearances in the season’s early months.
In 18 games this year, Viciedo has a .361/.412/.525 slash line so far and has drawn six walks while striking out just 11 times in 68 plate appearances. His batting average ranks fifth in baseball and second on the White Sox, right behind Tyler Flowers, one of the team’s other big surprises.
Viciedo’s consistency showed last night in the second game of a four-game set against the Detroit Tigers when he went 4-for-4 with a walk. Three of those hits came against Justin Verlander who held the White Sox to eight hits in his seven innings on the mound. Two nights prior, Viciedo had arguably his best game of the season to date, going 3-for-5 with two RBI and hitting his first home run of the season against the Texas Rangers.
Before the 2014 season began, Viciedo’s name came up in trade rumors, with the Seattle Mariners allegedly expressing interest in the 25-year-old outfielder. Whether or not Viciedo finishes the season on the South Side remains uncertain. However, with the slew of injuries that hit the White Sox recently, Viciedo’s dominance at the plate provides another bright spot in a season that’s starting to take some unfortunate turns.