Owens, Fields succeeding in Minors

Owens, Fields succeeding in Minors

DETROIT -- Jerry Owens has truly begun to hit for Triple-A Charlotte. The same characterization with the bat rings true for Josh Fields as part of the Knights.

And that's a great bit of news coming from the International League for the White Sox. If the American League Central leaders need some sort of boost or injury replacement, it could be one of these talented young individuals who get the call.

Fields' start to the 2008 campaign was slowed slightly by tendinitis in his right knee. Owens battled through a small tear in his right adductor muscle, suffered during Cactus League action, which put the fleet-footed leadoff man on the disabled list at the season's outset.

It was dealing with the hangover of returning to the Minors for Owens, after swiping 32 bases last year and hitting .267 over 93 games for the White Sox, which seemed to slow him down more than the injury. It was a situation noticed by DeWayne Wise, Owens' veteran teammate in Charlotte, who spoke about Owens during his recent big league stint.

"Every player goes through it," said Wise of Owens having to deal with returning to the Minors. "He had a great run last year. He got hurt in camp and came down to Charlotte, but he was a little down because everyone wants to be here.

"I could see he was frustrated, and it was showing a little on the field. But Jerry is a great guy, and I know he will get back to being himself."

Wise's assessment was right on target. Since May 30, Owens has hit .381 to raise his average to .261. He also has 16 stolen bases, after leading all Major League rookies with his total from 2007.

According to Minor League hitting coordinator Jeff Manto, who paid a recent visit to the White Sox, Owens needed to make a few adjustments to his swing to get it back to where it was last year. Adjusting to the job at hand also made a difference.

"Any time you have success in the big leagues and have to take a step back to the Minor Leagues, there is some frustration to go along with it," Manto said. "He's playing well right now. Once Jerry starts to hit, he'll forget about what happened in Spring Training and he'll get comfortable again."

When asked to pick out a few other top performers with the bat at the lower levels, Manto pointed to Chris Getz and his .312 average at Charlotte -- not to mention the infielder's success against both right-handed and left-handed pitching. There's also first baseman Brad Eldred, who launched his 21st home run during Charlotte's 11-2 victory over Norfolk on Wednesday, giving him the second-highest total of long balls in the Minors.

As for Fields, he's handling his tough stint in Charlotte with the same class and hard work put forth after being reassigned to the Knights. Fields currently has a .261 average, with 10 home runs, 37 RBIs and eight stolen bases, after hitting 23 home runs and posting 67 RBIs during 100 games in place of Joe Crede at third base last year.

"He hasn't mentioned a word of it," said Manto of Fields. "He doesn't treat anyone any different, and you would never know he had that kind of success in the big leagues. He goes down and does his work. It shows he's a class act."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.