First homer latest success as Vaughn gives Sox another bat originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Andrew Vaughn is finally in the home-run column.
Not that he tried to get there.
“I’m never trying to go up there and hit a home run,” Vaughn said. “Hit the ball hard, get it in the air a little bit and try to make some magic happen. And I guess that’s what happened right there.”
It took more than a month into Vaughn’s big league career for him to do the thing he was expected to do with great frequency. He was billed as a power-hitting first baseman from the minute the White Sox took him with the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft. But in his first taste of the majors, he’s been a homer-free left fielder. Go figure.
Of course, being without a bomb through the first 23 games of his career didn’t bother him, nor did it bother his hitting coach, as he’s heated up at the plate as the season has gone along.
Before Wednesday night’s game, Frank Menechino was emphatic in his disinterest in seeing Vaughn put one over the fence, as long as the rookie kept upping his batting average.
“I’ve told Andrew to hit .300,” Menechino said. “‘I don’t care if you don’t hit one home run. Hit .300, work on hitting .300.’ And if he goes into that where he’s going to look to hit .300?
“Everybody wants to see the home run. … I don’t want to get excited, but f— the home run. Let’s hit .300. Then we will worry about the other stuff later.”
Later came quick for Menechino, who was probably more accepting of Vaughn’s long ball Wednesday night than his earlier comments made it seem.
But Vaughn obviously took the advice to heart, or he was that type of thinker already, intent not on trying to show off his power stroke but on mastering major league pitching. It’s worked out pretty well in recent weeks, and after everyone tore their hair out over Vaughn’s playing time, he’s getting the regular at-bats he’s earned with his production at the plate.
“I’ve always tried to be myself and be a hitter first,” Vaughn said. “That’s very important, being a hitter and the power will come. You can’t try to hit home runs. There are a select few guys who can do that. Just go out and put good at-bats together and help the team win in any way possible.”
Vaughn’s ascension into the realm of the White Sox productive hitters has come as so many others up and down the lineup have simultaneously reached that status. The White Sox offense, which ranks as one of baseball’s best, has put on an absolute clinic in May. After Wednesday night’s 13-run outburst, the White Sox have scored 59 runs in nine games this month, averaging 6.6 of them a night. They’ve scored at least nine runs in four straight games and five of their last seven.
There’s not a thing wrong with the lineup right now, but even if these excessive good times don’t continue as a daily certainty, Vaughn’s contributions show what the White Sox spent the spring saying: that he can be a reliable piece for a team with World Series expectations.
Now basically the team’s everyday left fielder with injuries wreaking havoc on the starting outfield, Vaughn has done all he can to stabilize the position, not only with surer defense than one might have expected from someone who hadn’t played there before, but with his bat, which of course was the surer thing as spring training wrapped.
Solidifying the lineup and stabilizing the choppy waters that were left field in the season’s early going, Vaughn has proven himself the valuable piece he looked to be during the spring. And more and more, that’s something the White Sox count on as the summer comes and they eye what’s possible in October.
“The kid played A-ball. The kid played college two years ago. Just being up here, relaxing, working every day, getting comfortable,” Menechino said. “It’s just a matter of getting back to relaxing and figuring out the league.
“It takes 1,500 at-bats up here to figure out who you are as a big leaguer. He’s doing great. His work ethic is there. He’s positive. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
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