Eaton's move to right field paying off

New position has resulted in better throws even after shoulder surgery

April 23rd, 2016

CHICAGO -- When Mitch Moreland belted a line drive to right field in the seventh inning on Friday, White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he initially thought the ball was going to get down.

A split-second later, as right fielder Adam Eaton moved swiftly toward the line, that changed.

"I think halfway out there you see he had a pretty good beat on it," Ventura said. "He tracked it down pretty good."

Eaton made a running catch before firing back into the infield for what eventually became the first 9-3-2-6-2-5 triple play in Major League history, but it might not have happened if not for an offseason move.

When the White Sox signed center fielder Austin Jackson in March, the club moved Eaton to right.

In 2015, Eaton was statistically a below-average center fielder. His defensive runs saved total was -14. So far in 2016, Eaton's defense in right field has been worth seven more runs than the average player. That DRS rating of seven leads all right fielders. Eaton is also tied for the team lead with a .317 batting average.

"Any time you're playing defense at the clip he is, it give you a boost," Ventura said. "It helps pitchers. He's been doing a lot of things. He's been running down balls, the way he comes in, charges it, his throws have been great."

Ventura said Eaton's arm strength was a big reason for his move to right field as opposed to left field, this despite Eaton's October arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder.

"I think it's been utilized better there," Ventura said. "He just seems like he gets a better angle at things and comes up throwing and has better aim with [his throws], too."

Jackson's late signing meant Eaton had little time to transition to playing right field full time. But through 17 games, the abrupt move seems to have resulted in a better home -- now with a little history to prove it.

"Even last year when he would roam around and do things, you would see where he looked pretty comfortable on the corners," Ventura said. "Whether it's left or right, he does look pretty comfortable over there."

Cabrera likely staying put in order

Melky Cabrera is one of few White Sox hitters off to strong start, as his .317 average entering Saturday is tied with Eaton for the team lead. Cabrera has batted fifth in 15 games this season, and that likely won't change despite a lineup with a collective .220 batting average -- 14th in the American League.

"I can probably move him up a little bit, but there's just something about being right in the middle, being a switch-hitter, being able to swing it from both sides, that is very appealing to keep him there," Ventura said.