Coming into spring training for the 2008 season, the Chicago White Sox had a strict idea of how their lineup would shape up.
Both Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen had the fleet-footed Jerry Owens penciled in as the leadoff hitter.
That mentality went down the drain within weeks after Owens had reported to camp.
He is currently sitting on the disabled list with the same problem that limited leadoff man Scott Podsednik to just 62 games last season.
There have been two unlikely heroes who have attempted to step up to fill the gap left by the speedy Owens.
Newcomers Nick Swisher (acquired from Oakland for Ryan Sweeney, Gio Gonzales, and others) and Carlos Quentin (acquired from Arizona for a minor league first baseman) have filled in the rest of the outfield next to Jermaine Dye.
Swisher has stepped in and stepped up to the challenge of leading off. To this point, Swisher is batting .289 with a .460 on-base percentage. He has done exactly what he was brought in to do; get on base.
Quentin has filled in the outfield spot left vacant by the injured Owens.
After the Alexei Ramirez starting in center field experiment fell on its face, Swisher slipped over into center, and Quentin jumped into left.
As of Tuesday morning, Quentin is batting .222 with an on-base percentage of .333. However, Quentin has hit one home run and driven in 10 runs.
Quentin and Swisher have both added, with a couple exceptions, superb defense. Quentin's highlight reel includes doubling up Edgar Renteria at first base on a fly-out to left.
Nothing can replace Owens' 32 stolen bases in his 93 games. However, where do you put the speedy left-handed bat?
With Quentin, Swisher, and Dye playing exceptional defense, getting on base, and driving in big runs, there seems to be no place for Jerry, other than "riding the pine" or AAA Charlotte.
Do Ozzie and Kenny bring up Jerry Owens and send down the defensive-minded Brian Anderson, and keep Owens on the bench to be used as a pinch runner?
He would provide a left-handed bat off the White Sox bench that they do not have currently. He also gives Ozzie some speed, something the Sox are sorely lacking right now.
Does Jerry come up and immediately get shoved into the leadoff spot? If so, who's bat (or glove) gets displaced to the bench and to AAA? Jerry is the stereotypical leadoff hitter that would start stealing some bases at the top of that power-laden line up. It would also allow fantasy owners of Nick Swisher to finally get some power numbers out of him.
Or does KW start working on a trade? For the first time in recent memory, the South Siders have an excess of Major League ready outfielders.
However, who would command more on the trade market? Jerry Owens or Brian Anderson? More importantly still, who would you have to package with them to make any sort of deal worth while?
With Jerry Owens on a rehab assignment and returning soon, the White Sox management and the manager have some questions that need to be answered and thought out rather quickly.
Sox fans can only hope that all parties involved are not jumping into conclusions irrationally.
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