Rios saw his average improve by almost 50 points over the weekend as the White Sox swept the Seattle Mariners. Last year's offensive whipping boy had three hits in the final game of the series, a 7-4 Chicago victory.
Rios tied the game with a two-run triple into the gap in right field and then scored what would be the game-winner on a sacrifice fly by Kosuke Fukudome. Rios drove in an insurance run in the eighth, giving him three hits and RBIs in four at-bats.
Rios is currently hitting .333 on the young season. Not only is Rios hitting the ball to all fields, but he's also done it early and often so far this season.
Sunday's multi-hit game was his third of the season. It also extended Rios' hitting streak to ten games. In fact, Rios has hits in 11 of the 13 games he has played so far in April.
Rios was woeful last year, batting .227 and contributing to the under-performing tag slapped on the White Sox in 2011. Rios adjusted his stance, put his hands in a more traditional position and is able to handle a variety of pitches. The triple to right Sunday was proof positive of his willingness to take a pitch to the opposite field.
"I’m just focusing on my approach right now,” Rios said to Scott Powers of ESPNChicago.com. “I just want to swing at good pitches and have a good approach. Beside that, nothing else.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
“I’m not trying to do anything extraordinary. That’s about it. I’m trying to keep everything simple.”
Rios seems more relaxed since moving over from center field, and right now it's showing up in his play. A few weeks into the season may be a little early to expect big things from Rios, but one has to take some encouragement in how the year has begun for a player that was in a season-long funk.
Skipper Robin Ventura has been encouraged as well:
“He’s been really steady in right field and looks good at the plate. He’s been covering a lot of different things. He’s not just hitting fastballs, but off-speed pitches. He’s kind of doing everything -- where he can pull the inside pitch go the other way on something away. It’s something he’s kind of been working on.
“He just looks very comfortable at the plate, confident.”
Let's hope Rios can continue to build a case for a comeback season in 2012.