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

What's wrong with Rios?

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Chicago+White+Sox+v+Seattle+Mariners+e68EqEAbbX6l.jpgThere are a ton of reasons why the White Sox need Alex Rios to be the player that had superstar written all over him just a few years ago.
Actually, there are almost 60 million reasons why they need Rios to be that guy, considering they owe him $58.7 million over the next five seasons since they acquired him a few weeks back off waivers from Toronto.
So far that return has netted an everyday outfielder that was hitting .160 with one home run and three RBI in 21 games entering the finale of the Boston series.
It would be one thing if the Sox had other options, but this is not an organization that can make Milton Bradley-esque mistakes and then throw more money at it next year to cover it up. Rios will be the fourth highest-paid player on the roster next season, with Jake Peavy making $15 million, Mark Buehrle at $14 million, Paul Konerko at $12 million and then Rios' $9.7 million.
Of course there is pressure to get him turned around as quickly as possible, and hitting coach Greg Walker thinks that a majority of that pressure is coming from Rios.
"You're talking about a guy that's had a good bit of success in this league,'' Walker explained on Monday. "When you bring a guy over to a pennant chase, a lot of pressure. He got off to a bad start and I just think it kind of snowballed on him.
"You look at him and the physical part, he's an elite talent. I don't think anyone in this league would deny that. But I think he's come over here and he's pressing. It started in his brain and now it evolved into his mechanics. I think his lower half, he's spinning off a lot of balls. I know he's frustrated.''
Rios isn't alone, as Sox fans at the Cell are now starting to turn on a player that general manager Ken Williams was looking to build the outfield around.
The way Walker sees it, however, there's just under a month now to get him right going into next year.
"You have to look at this on a daily basis, get him ready for the game each day,'' Walker said. "As a hitting coach you try and look at what he's thinking, look at him from that respect and simplify it. Base hit up the middle, simple like that. Let him know, 'This is what this guy is going to try and do to you.'
"The last thing you want to be doing as a hitting coach in September is working on mechanics, but whether it's pressing or the mental approach, he's had some pretty consistent misses and most of them have ended up with the problem starting in the legs.''
According to Walker, the approach had been hands off at first, especially because Rios came over with a solid resume. With him drowning now, it's time to throw the life preserver.
"We basically take a commonsense approach - 'What have you done in the past, what kind of approach have you used, what worked for you?' '' Walker said. "The last thing we're going to do is try and impart new things on him and throw something into the mix that he's never dealt with before. So for the first two or three weeks, we've sat back and watched, let him go play and give him the information and workload he's always gotten.
"But now it's to the point where you start looking at where are his misses, what we see that works and doesn't work? That's kind of where we're at now.''

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5 Comments

So what do the Sox do if Walker and Rios can't solve the hitting problems of this ridiculously overpaid outfielder? Lose I guess? There is no plan B.

OK Greg Walker...here's your chance..fix this guy and you prove you are an asset to the team...the gauntlet has been thrown..

Enjoy the pop-ups to right field, the never-ending talk of potential, and 5 years of frustration!

I heard that Rios is a solid player, but that remains to be seen. The money is best thing about him. The sox spent money on a guy who can play the field but my daughter can do better at the plate then he can. This guy has done nothing since he came to the team and always leaves men on base while at the plate. I guess as we say "the money wasn't worth spending." The season is over for our guys anyway so i guess Rios and the other underachievers can continue to blow this season away like all the others. The same old song is constantly ringing in our heads right now is the time for Kenny to start shipping and moving the herd out. We need fresh meat and guys who will play with guts and glory and not make excuses. I guess next year for our sox 2010 without the excuses and lazy play.

A casual internet search turns up articles pointing to the Jays' frustration with Rios' mechanics early in the season,and to Rios trying to figure it out, asking others for advice. How could the Sox or sports writers not have known about that issue? What is Walker talking about hands off? Do these guys do their homework -- when it comes to facing pitchers for the first time, making adjustments to pitchers during the course of a game, or for anything else?

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Cowley published on September 7, 2009 2:30 PM.

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