Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton answered fan questions this morning as part of a conference call with fans emceed by White Sox public address announcer Gene Honda.
Eaton spent the majority of his professional career with the Arizona Diamondbacks making his Major League debut with them in 2012. However, a three-team trade sent him to the White Sox, Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks, and Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels.
Eaton’s first big welcome to White Sox fans was during SoxFest and he said he enjoyed the experience.
“It was very special to meet the fans because I think the fan base is important to any team,” Eaton said. “The Sox have been around for a long time. It was great to see the city. It was nice to see the field covered in snow but it was a great event and I was excited to be part of it.”
Weather was a popular topic and Eaton said he doesn’t see cold weather as a disadvantage to the team.
“I don’t think anything can prepare you for the weather they’re having there (Chicago) now but I’m used to that stuff and I think it’s an advantage to play in that type of climate,” Eaton said. “Baseball players are creatures of habit and you have a certain way about how you get warmed up and get moving before you go hit. There are teams that aren’t used to that. They don’t have that type of climate which gives us the advantage.”
He added that college baseball helped condition him to the weather.
“I played in the MAC, Mid-American Conference, with Miami-Ohio so this is familiar to me,” Eaton said. “I played in Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, and Northern Illinois in March and April so it’s not going to be key for me. The key is to move around, get your body going, and be mentally tough and not be worried when you’re hitting the ball off the end of the bat and it’s ringing in your toes. Keeping that mental toughness goes a long way.”
Moving into the American League will present several challenges for Eaton but he said he’s ready to tackle them.
“I think the biggest thing going from the NL to AL is hitting and learning the pitchers all over again. I think I finally got comfortable towards the end of last year knowing the National League pitchers,” Eaton said. “Going into the AL, it’s just about learning about guys and how they attack you and how they go about it. Another thing is I’m usually hitting behind a pitcher. It will be different having a guy there that can run a little bit and that kind of opens things up also.”
He added that stealing bases will be slightly different due to learning about AL pitchers and catchers.
“Pitchers are basically the same type of creature. They are guys of habit that tend to follow the same patterns but I need to learn the catchers, how they throw, and how quick they are to second base,” Eaton said. “Sometimes the guys are opened up. They’re showing signs and you can kind of peek in every now and again. I base how a catcher throws to what kind of jump I can get.”
Spring training is where Eaton said he plans on doing the most learning.
“A very intelligent man said once you learn a lot by watching and for me, spring training is key. Even though guys aren’t really showing their stuff, you still watch their timing and how they go about their business,” Eaton said. “I’m not a big video guy. It’s a different angle than my eye and I think the eye test goes a lot further and one of the beauties of the game is talking baseball. It’s going into the clubhouse after a spring training game and talking to a veteran about this guy attacks you at the plate and so on.”
Going into the 2014 season, Eaton said he plans on focusing on boosting his on-base percentage.
“I put a lot of weight in on-base percentage. If I’m hitting .240 or .250 and my on-base is around .300 or .400, I’m doing my job. I’m getting on base. I’m getting chances to steal. I’m getting chances to score,” Eaton said. “You can’t steal first base, which is what they always like to say, but at the same time if my on-base is that high, it means I’m competing every at-bat. Getting on base brings runs and with runs come wins.”
Eaton lives in Arizona and has already been working out with other White Sox players preparing for the new season and said they’re ready.
“The hitting camp was awesome. I enjoyed it and got to meet the front office people along with some new players. To be out here and meet those guys early and build a relationship with those guys goes a long way,” Eaton said. “I really do think the relationship and being around the guys now will help in September.”
The Chicago White Sox open spring training on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers on February 28.