GLENDALE, Ariz. - While Alex Rios' splendid bounce-back 2012 season coincided with Robin Ventura's arrival as manager, the White Sox right fielder downplays the correlation.
Ventura's calming influence in the clubhouse may have helped Rios and Adam Dunn recover after their woeful performances in 2011, but Rios said the biggest difference was the change in his stance and some mechanical tweaks in his swing. Ventura did create a mellower atmosphere after taking over for the more feisty and talkative Ozzie Guillen, but that wasn't a factor in getting turned around, Rios said.
"I wouldn't say that because I don't think attitudes in the clubhouse affect an individual's performance,'' Rios said Saturday. "Attitudes are important to the team as a whole, but not individuals so much. I just made some adjustments that made me a better player and made me have the season that I had. Mechanical changes were the key to the success.''
Standing more upright in the batter's box helped Rios put up numbers that made him the Sox most valuable player in 2012: A .304 average with 25 homers, 91 RBI and 23 stolen bases. He ranked among the top ten in the American League in triples (eight), average with runners in scoring position (.348), extra-base hits (70), hits (184), total bases (312) and slugging percentage (.516).
Rios had a similar season in 2010, only to fall off drastically in 2011, so he avoids discussing expectations in spring training.
"In spring training, I always come with a lot of optimism,'' he said. "I don't set goals because I don't believe it helps you to do better. I just try to perform at the highest level I can every day. But yeah, I feel pretty good. I feel as comfortable as I've ever felt so I feel like I'm in a good place.''