KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Alex Rios is a standup guy.
After he and Adam Dunn struggled miserably last season, they arrived at spring training with no excuses, ready to work with new hitting coach Jeff Manto and get things fixed.
"They took responsibility,'' Manto said.
Rios, who ushered in the the second half with a 411-foot home run and a double to the wall in his first at-bats after the All-Star break in the White Sox' 14-inning, 9-8 win against the Royals on Friday night, is standing up at the plate, too. While much is made of Rios getting out of his crouch and switching to a more upright stance, he and Manto say Rios' turnaround stems from his approach, not his stance or mechanics.
"The more we talked about hitting, the more he evolved into what you're seeing today,'' Manto said. "It was never 'you should do this' or 'you should do that.' It was an evolution of discussions. Now where he's set up, it matches the approach that he has. For some time he had the right approach but not the right stance for what he wanted to do.
"He's such a good player, and he watches. He knows what he's doing. He knows exactly what his plan is and he sticks with it.''
Rios (13 homers, 50 RBI) is leading the American League in hitting since May 29. A former All-Star who had the numbers to be one this week but wasn't, batted .227 with 13 homers and 44 RBI last year. He struggled from beginning almost to the end.
"I knew something was wrong last year, but I was focusing on things that I didn't have to focus on,'' Rios said. "I put too much effort on things that I didn't have to, like mechanics. That was my whole fight.''
Rios was going so good before the break, he almost hated to see it come along. But he, like almost every other player, has minor aches (Rios has ongoing foot issues), so he welcomed the rest. He said he didn't look at the break as a pause. He called it a "continuation.''
"When you're going good your confidence level is high and when your confidence is high you'll have more success,'' Rios said. "First half, second half, I have to keep doing the same things I was doing. I see it as a continuation, not a pause.''
And Rios will continue to keep the mechanics of hitting simple. That approach is obviously working.
"To tell you the truth, I'm just focusing on my approach,'' Rios said. "I'm not looking at my mechanics. I don't even want to think about mechanics, or how I'm standing or anything. I don't want to get in that hole again.
"Just keeping it simple. Try to get good pitches to hit and stick with your plan at the plate. I don't want to change the plan after two pitches. See it through the whole at-bat, and whatever happens, happens.''