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Gillaspie happy to see hard work pay off in games

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CHICAGO -- Conor Gillaspie's .326 average over his first 43 at-bats stands as one of the true pleasant surprises among a slow start by the White Sox offense.

He has played primarily at third base in Gordon Beckham's absence, with Jeff Keppinger moving over to second base. But Robin Ventura made clear Wednesday that Gillaspie won't necessarily be relegated to the bench when Beckham comes back, potentially in early June.

"From the outside, not having a left-handed hitter somewhere in the middle breaking up the lineup looked like a weakness," said Ventura of Gillaspie. "He's shown he has the ability to do that. He definitely has earned more time somewhere out there, whether it's third or first."

When pressed if Gillaspie was more a top-of-the-order sort of hitter or somewhere in the middle, Ventura wouldn't commit.

"I'm not going to say he's going to bat somewhere. He's just in the lineup," Ventura said. "That's pretty good for me."

Gillaspie understands the roster dynamics, although his future playing time doesn't necessarily have to come from a third- or second-base option. In the interim, Gillaspie seems to relish the personal improvements being made almost as much as the results.

His first White Sox homer Monday serves as a prime example of that fact.

"Honestly, I've been kind of going through a learning curve of playing at this level, so I was just really happy to barrel something," Gillaspie said. "More of the satisfaction came from watching video for a few days and figuring out where I was a little bit off and fixing it and actually having it happen in a game. That was kind of more the rewarding thing for me than hitting the home run.

"Nothing major but when the game speeds up at this level and you start panicking, because the game moves so much faster than what I'm used to, just spending 10 minutes down there looking at something, saying, 'Maybe I'll try this' and then to have that pay off in a game actually, as opposed to BP, it's a rewarding experience. It makes you appreciate all the tools they have at this level to help you."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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