ST. LOUIS -- Since the start of June, Alejandro De Aza has played in 11 games and hit in 10 of them. He has a .387 average over a current seven-game hitting streak and has hit in 19 of his last 22 games going back into May, with 11 of those efforts being of the multihit variety. He hasn't gone hitless in back-to-back starts since May 17-18.
The success for De Aza might surprise some, considering the left-handed hitter's only everyday play came from his July 27 callup until the end of last season. It's all about taking advantage of this chance.
"Did I know? I don't know," said White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto, when asked if he could have predicted De Aza's big numbers after working with him last year as the White Sox Minor League hitting coordinator. "If he had the opportunity, I was going to be interested to see what was happening. He has proven that he belongs.
"He's always on his feet. He never has a bad at-bat. From the first pitch to the last pitch of the at-bat, he always stays within himself and within his plan. His swing is so low maintenance that it's perfect for that leadoff spot.
"There's not a whole lot of timing issues there. There are not a whole lot of mechanical issues. It's an approach that can sustain itself throughout a season. And with his ability to bunt and run, it's a perfect spot."
Having 27 RBIs at the top of the order doesn't hurt the White Sox attack either. But De Aza's job is to work the count, get on base and set the table for RBI men such as Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko. So, his 45 runs scored and the four pitches he averages per at-bat are more important to the team than his RBIs.
"Historically, when you have a leadoff guy who can get on base, it brings a whole new dimension," Manto said. "It puts a lot of pressure on the defense and on the pitcher, and similarly, you are trying to be perfect to keep him off the bases.
"More times than not you make a mistake and the next thing you know, he's hitting a double. That position, especially how he does it, it's very important. He's not your typical slap guy. He definitely has some pop."