If the Chicago White Sox are serious about competing for a Central Division title, something has to be done at the hot corner. To be blunt, the folks manning that position haven't been so hot.
Brent Morel began the year with the third base job, hit .177 through mid-May and was sent to the DL with back problems. Those issues have not lessened in his recent rehab assignment, and he is probably not going to be at skipper Robin Ventura's disposal anytime soon.
His replacement for the most part has been Orlando Hudson, cast off by the Padres for hitting .211 with them in 35 games. So far, he hasn't been the answer.
Hudson hit a three-run homer in a late rally that ultimately fell short, as Chicago dropped an 11-9 decision to Houston Sunday afternoon. Despite this, Hudson is hitting just .202 with the White Sox since coming aboard.
Hudson did drive in the game-winner against Toronto on June 7. He still might provide use as a utility man for Chicago. However, it's pretty apparent that he is merely a stop-gap solution at third base. He isn't hitting and is struggling to pick up a new position.
Morel took himself out of the game with Triple-A Charlotte June 6 after an at-bat. The strain in his lumbar area of his back is not responding well to game action.
With Morel possibly eyeing a long recovery process, Ventura is left with two options. He can keep sending Hudson out to third or maybe give Brent Lillibridge a stint to show what he could do playing every day.
Of course, White Sox GM Kenny Williams could provide Ventura with a better option.
The name that most easily comes to mind is Boston's Kevin Youkilis, who is struggling himself and appears to have no place in the Red Sox lineup. Would Williams take a chance and take on salary after paring down payroll during the offseason?
This is Kenny Williams we're talking about. If he thinks Chicago has any chance of staying in this race, he'll find a way to help his ballclub.
Right now, Williams might be able to obtain the 33-year-old veteran for little more than picking up the tab on the rest of his contract. Williams could then cross his fingers and hope that Youkilis can provide some help.
True, the price would be about $7-8 million of salary and a buyout of next year's option. However, even as a .232 hitter, Youkilis is a better option than any from which Ventura has to choose.
Williams could also wait a bit and hope to find a team willing to part with a starter at third next month. Who knows if the White Sox will be in contention by then? Perhaps Williams is going to see how the landscape is in a couple of weeks.
The situation at third base is going to have to be addressed if the White Sox are to continue to compete for the postseason. Time will tell as to how the team plans on doing that moving forward.
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