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Gillaspie eyes relaxed approach to ups, downs

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Conor Gillaspie readily admits that he'd like to play better defensively in 2014, and he understands that routine plays caused him more issues than challenging ones at third base last season.

But in looking for greater overall improvement for his second season with the White Sox, Gillaspie has turned more to the mental side of the game. Being confident and relaxed definitely make a difference in his mind.

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"I'm starting to figure out a little bit more," Gillaspie said, "instead of coming in here tense and thinking about the game at 11 o'clock or noon. There's really no need for that. I'm starting to understand that won't help you in the long run.

"Quite frankly, I have days where my poor games last year were games where I couldn't let it go, couldn't escape from trying too hard. My goal this year is that I want to be somebody that will not be flustered by anything, that doesn't get down, doesn't get super excited.

"Basically, somebody that you can't get in their head. That's my goal this year, and I'm starting to kind of see how some of the older guys approach this game, and I can learn a lot from that."

When asked for a veteran player he's trying to learn from, Gillaspie pointed to Adam Dunn and his handling of the ups and downs in Chicago.

"He's had some rough spells. He's had some great spells. He's been through a lot," Gillaspie said. "The thing about him is, every day he comes in here with the same exact attitude, and if I can get to that point, it's going to make this job a lot more enjoyable for me because I'm so hard on myself.

"I'm so hard on losing games or if I screw up. There's going to come a point in my career where that's going to have to start tapering off a little bit. For some reason, since the first day I stepped in here this year, I've felt a little bit differently than I did last year. I was constantly worried about things last year and stressed out, and 'What if this happens? What if that happens?'

"Watching guys like Dunn, [Paul] Konerko even, those guys you wouldn't be able to tell how they've done throughout the course of game when they come in the locker room or when you see them the next day. That's going to be a big steppingstone for me as I get older."

Gillaspie, 26, hit .245 with 13 homers and 40 RBIs for the White Sox last season, while committing 16 errors over 113 games at third base. Gillaspie, who is out of Minor League options, is in competition with Jeff Keppinger, Marcus Semien and Matt Davidson for the third-base job.

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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{"event":["spring_training" ] }
{"event":["spring_training" ] }