Young slugger Viciedo provides hope for White Sox

That didn’t take long.

Two at-bats into White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo’s first game at the major league level and he had gone 2-for-2 with a three-run homer to put the White Sox ahead for good. The sight was refreshing compared to the whiff show usually put on by $50-million man Adam Dunn.

What did take long was finally promoting “The Tank” to the major leagues. I guess Alex Rios’ .253 OBP, Adam Dunn’s .163 average and Juan Pierre’s .339 slugging percentage wasn’t enough for manager Ozzie Guillen to call up Viciedo from the Triple-A club for the first five months of the season.

In the minor leagues, Viciedo was smashing the ball with a .296 batting average, 20 HRs, 78 RBIs and even participated in the Triple-A home run derby. Viciedo’s plate discipline also improved dramatically while in the minors; Viciedo has drawn 45 base on balls this year compared to drawing only 11 walks last season.

Guillen would be the first to tell you he should’ve brought the 22-year-old to the majors sooner. The Viciedo dilemma was debated throughout much of the season and White Sox fans are happy to finally see the drama come to an end. After all, the only reason Viciedo got the promotion was because All-Star outfielder Carlos Quentin was placed on the DL with a sprained left shoulder. That isn’t the first or last time you will see the oft-injured Quentin on the DL. Consider that the last time Viciedo will need a promotion to be in the majors. The Viciedo era has just begun for the White Sox, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

This team is old, there’s no doubt about it.

The White Sox’s average age is 29.6 years old. Of all of the White Sox position players, the only starters in their 20s are third basemen Brent Morel, shortstop Alexei Ramirez, second basemen Gordon Beckham and Quentin.

Although Morel is 24, he is currently hitting .252 with two HRs and probably doesn’t figure to be in Chicago’s future plans. Beckham, 24, once a highly touted shortstop, has struggled to hit anything since his outstanding rookie campaign. Ramirez, 29, and Quentin, 28, are impact players for the Sox but are both in their upper 20s.

Making Beckham the only everyday player the White Sox have who figures to be in their lineup for years to come. The Sox need a franchise player, and Viciedo can fix that problem.

As 21-year-old shortstop Starlin Castro has proved for the Cubs, being young is not always a disadvantage. Even though Castro bursted onto the scene as a 20-year-old, he immediately became one of the best shortstops in baseball and is without a doubt the face of the Cubs franchise. Many thought Castro was being called up too early, but after being the Northsiders’ lone All-Star this season his doubters were silenced.

Viciedo could have a similar immediate impact. Sunday’s three-run home run against the Mariners wasn’t a fluke, it was a sign of things to come.

White Sox fans, like Cubs fans, need something to look forward to. The Cubs have been out of the NL Central race since the season began, but the Sox have just recently realized their chances of overtaking the Tigers are doubtful (six games behind Detroit entering Monday). Viciedo provides hope for the Sox.

Yes Adam Dunn is, well, done. And there’s a legitimate chance that Mark Buehrle will not return to the Sox after this season. And 35-year-old Paul Konerko will not be producing at this high of a level into his 40s either (currently on a .316, 35 HR, 109 RBI pace). But regardless of the negatives surrounding this White Sox team, the Tank will lead the way.

_Michael Wonsover is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]_