Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

Guillen: Despite big hit, Fields will sit in series finale against Twins

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Josh Fields knocked in the winning run for the White Sox with his RBI single in an eventual seven-run fourth inning Wednesday night, but he will find himself on the bench Thursday for the series finale against the Twins.

Manager Ozzie Guillen confirmed his plan to sit Fields on Thursday and start Wilson Betemit.

Before the 7-4 victory over the Twins, Guillen threatened to bench the slumping Fields.

''He's next,'' Guillen said of an Alexei Ramirez-style benching. ''If he keeps doing what he's doing, I need somebody to do better at third base. I need better at-bats. When you're batting second and eighth and ninth, and you strike out the way he does, it's not good for him, it's not good for the ballclub.''

Fields entered Wednesday tied for third in the American League with 43 strikeouts. The last three weeks have been particularly rough for Fields. He entered the game with 21 strikeouts and just nine hits in 58 at-bats since April 29.

Certainly, Fields isn't the only member of Guillen's lineup struggling. But he stands out the most in Guillen's mind.

''He just strikes out more than he makes contact,'' Guillen said. ''I never tell my hitters to hit .350 -- I never have and I never will. [Jayson] Nix, he's hitting around .220 [actually .241 entering Wednesday]. A lot of people in Chicago think Nix is leading the league in hitting right now. He's hitting .220. [Chris] Getz is around there also [.231]. But those two guys give themselves a chance to get a hit. I think right now Fields is not doing that.''

If Fields gets benched, he would be little help as a pinch hitter -- an area the Sox have struggling, taking an .052 average (1-for-20) into Wednesday. Any thought to sending Fields back to Class AAA Charlotte?

''Not yet,'' Guillen said. ''That's not something we have talked about because I am going to give him a couple more chances to see how he does, then we'll figure out who we are going to put there. But Charlotte? I don't know. If he's not going to play here, he would be sitting on the bench and obviously he would have to go down and play, but that's not in our mind yet.''

There is no question Fields had worked himself into Guillen's doghouse. Fields got booed Tuesday night after failing to get a bunt down against the Twins, lining out to the mound. Guillen couldn't believe his eyes.

''When you hit .220, you better know how to bunt,'' Guillen said. ''If you're not the third, fourth, fifth, sixth hitter, everybody in the lineup besides those guys should be bunting. That's part of the game. That's the way I learned. That's the way baseball should be. Baseball's changed the last 10 years, 15 years, they don't play the game anymore. In the minor-league system, they don't.''

Fields' slow start is a head-scratcher after he showed such promise in 2007, hitting 23 home runs in 100 games.

''I don't remember 2007, I don't want to remember that year,'' Guillen said of the 90-loss season. ''Maybe because in 2007 we were out of the pennant race, he was a little more comfortable. Maybe. But right now, it's still May. It's not easy to say, 'OK, this is it.' But do we want better at-bats from him? Yes, there's no doubt about it. He knows.

''I don't think Josh is going to hit .330, but he can hit right around 20, 25 home runs, around .260 to .280. But I don't expect him to strike out 500 times. And we give him 500, 600 at-bats, hell be close to that. That's my worry. I don't worry about his average, I worry about him striking out too much.''

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This page contains a single entry by Chris De Luca published on May 20, 2009 10:36 PM.

Guillen questions Ramirez's bizarre decision to slide into third base was the previous entry in this blog.

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