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

White Sox Lillibridge strives for consistency, starting role

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PHOENIX - Brent Lillibridge has been an impact player for the White Sox, one who would garner team MVP votes if a tally were taken today.

But there he was again Friday night, on the White Sox bench for the third straight game on the road trip.

"I'm not 100 percent happy not playing [every day] but that's the role I'm in and I have to continue to prove I can play when I'm in there and be consistent,'' Lillibridge said. "That's what they are looking for - consistency.

"My goal is to be an everyday player. There is a lot more money (big smile) in that.''

Lillibridge is batting .273 with seven homers and 12 RBI. But in his last seven games, he's 1-for-15. There remains an open debate about whether he would be better for the Sox in his role as a platoon player or playing every day. As left fielder Juan Pierre putters around in left field and in the leadoff spot - where he has stopped stealing bases - some wouldn't mind seeing Lillibridge plugged into left.

"I've had to dig myself out of a hole I created two years ago when I first made the team and didn't look good in front of [manager] Ozzie [Guillen] and [general manager] Kenny [Williams],'' Lillibridge said. "I didn't show I had the ability to hit in the big leagues.

Said Guillen: "We give him a chance early last year and he couldn't do it. Can the kid play every day? He has to show us.''

In his platoon role spelling Carlos Quentin in right, Alex Rios in center and Pierre in left, Lillibridge has been a star, making huge tabloid headlines in New York with game-saving catches in the ninth inning and one last week at U.S. Cellular Field to prevent a home run, to name a few.

"I don't get to set up the lineups, I don't decide when I play,'' Lillibridge said. "Just be patient and perform when I get a chance to start, and focus on what I can do for the team in a particular game. In games I've struggled in, I've found a way with walks, getting on base or obviously defense -- showing I can contribute when things don't go right.''

"He's matured as a player,'' Guillen said, "and he's a way better player than he was the last couple of years. Yes he is. He's a better hitter, and he always played good defense in the outfield.

"Can he show us he can play every day? Well, that will be nice.''

If he doesn't, Lillibridge will try to carry on what he started - being one of the American League's biggest impact players off the bench.

"I don't think there is any tougher job in all of baseball than being a bench player in the American League,'' Lillibridge said. "The inconsistency of playing time. Guys in the National League get an at-bat every game. On a National League team, I'd probably be in the game every day for defense

"It's not just me. Our bench, whether it's me, Omar [Vizquel], Mark Teahen when he gets healthy and going, and [catcher Ramon] Castro, we're all impacts. We come in there and make impacts offensively.''

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This page contains a single entry by Daryl Van Schouwen published on June 17, 2011 10:22 PM.

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