Why Sheets is a 'dangerous' player for opponents to face
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Gavin Sheets will be relied upon heavily this year by the White Sox to step up to the plate and play anywhere around the diamond. It was one of the first things discussed when Pedro Grifol took over as the new White Sox manager.
The conversation between Sheets and Grifol set the tone for the season, but it also provided a sense of comfort with the new coaching staff.
“I thought that was really important,” Sheets said. “To come in and be ready to go at every position they need me to go in -- left field, right field, first base, DH, whatever they need. My job was to come in and prove that I could continue to play all those positions and help this team win in any way possible.
“That's what I really respect: They asked us what we expected from them, so it wasn't just what they expected from us. The communication right off the bat was great.”
A player like Sheets can be a rare find. Last year, he started 85 games in right field, 13 at first base and three in left field. Sure, there are plenty of players that offer versatility, but playing an array of positions and providing much-needed power in the middle of the order adds more value.
When asked about Sheets, Grifol had multiple attributes to describe the utility man, but three stood out.
“He’s a professional. He’s a tough out. He’s dangerous.”
Sheets, son of former Major Leaguer Larry Sheets, got to show how dangerous he can be in the 2021 postseason as a rookie. After playing 54 games with the White Sox, hitting .250 with 11 home runs, he smashed a home run in the top of the second inning of the American League Division Series against the Astros that sent the fans at Guaranteed Rate Field into a frenzy.
Sheets followed in 2022 by slashing .241/.295/.411 with 15 home runs, including a .359 batting average in August.
“I finished the season in a good spot, and I’m trying to build off that,” Sheets said. “I’m going to continue to get more athletic and help this team in the outfield and wherever they need me. So that was my main goal [this offseason].”
Through 12 games this spring, Sheets is batting .222 with one home run. He plans to keep working on the timing of his swing these last two weeks of Spring Training before Opening Day in Houston on March 30, facing the same team that he hit his first playoff home run against.
“This is when you really start to ramp it up,” Sheets said. “And hopefully, by the time the season starts, you're right where you want to be.”
Ultimately, Sheets said he wants to be the versatile left-handed bat and difference-maker who will help the White Sox win enough ballgames to return to the postseason. He feels the team's attitude and culture is heading in the right direction with the fresh coaching staff.
“It's just a little bit more energy this year,” Sheets said. “We're going to play the game really hard this year. We're going to put a lot of pressure on other teams.
“[The coaches] are great, very detailed and communicate great, and they're here to win. They know what they have to do here, they know the talent that we have in this building. They're ready to do everything it takes to win.”
Game canceled, Giolito pushed back
Wednesday’s game against the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium was canceled because of rain. Lucas Giolito was originally scheduled to start, but he will instead pitch a “B” game on Thursday at the White Sox facility in Glendale. Giolito has made two starts this spring, working a combined five innings while giving up three runs (two earned).