De Aza just what White Sox need in leadoff man

De Aza just what White Sox need in leadoff man

DETROIT-- Between stops at Triple-A Charlotte and with the White Sox, Alejandro De Aza played in 153 games last season.

On Saturday, De Aza took part in his 92nd game of the 94 played by the White Sox this season, meaning he once again should be in the 150s at the end of the year, barring an injury.

The numbers seem similar in terms of endurance, but De Aza explained on Saturday that there is a difference.

"I'm not going to say more pressure because pressure, if you're going to have pressure, you're going to have pressure here, down there or anywhere," De Aza said. "But the expectations? Yeah.

"It's the same, but at the same time, it's kind of different. It's the same baseball, but because it's a different level, you have to try to not make many mistakes. That makes it a little bit different."

De Aza has been the consummate leadoff man and center fielder since taking over the role at the start of the season. He has provided the added bonus of six homers and 37 RBIs, including a two-run drive off Justin Verlander in Friday night's 4-2 loss to the Tigers.

In that instance, though, De Aza was simply trying to make contact and advance Alexei Ramirez from second base to third. He also saw 14 pitches in his first two at-bats, helping to drive up Verlander's pitch count.

"For leading off and being able to take pitches and doing all the things he's been doing, playing center field, and for this being the first year he has done it, it's a tough spot," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "But I like what he's done for us.

"He's not afraid to get deep into a count and take some pitches. Between him and [Kevin Youkilis] batting second, guys should be able to see a lot of pitches by the time they come up."