Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Pedro Grifol Offers Bizzare Explanation For Why Dominic Fletcher Is Not Playing

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Dominic Fletcher has seemingly fallen out of favor with White Sox manager Pedro Grifol. Fletcher has not had a single at-bat since being called up on May 15th. On Monday Grifol met the media before the White Sox game against the Blue Jays and explained why. 

“Gavin is hitting third, Pham is hitting first and Beni [Benintendi] is a consistent pillar in our lineup. He’ll come in for defense and do some stuff. He has to wait for an opportunity and take advantage of it,” Grifol explained when asked about Fletcher.

It is an odd stance to take considering the “pillar” of the lineup, Andrew Benintendi, is slashing .195/.223/.506 in his first 42 games. Sheets has also cooled off at the plate of late, hitting .186 with just a .302 slugging percentage in his last 15 games. Meanwhile, Andrew Vaughn has struggled at the plate all season, so Grifol could opt to give him a few days off and move Sheets to first base to make room for Fletcher in the lineup. 

The way the White Sox have handled Fletcher this season has been bizarre. He was acquired in a trade with the Diamondbacks in February for pitching prospect Cristian Mena. Mena was considered a top-10 prospect for the White Sox, so this was not a small investment. But Fletcher was viewed as a potential long-term solution in right field. 

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Assistant general manager Josh Barfield was very familiar with Fletcher during his eight seasons in Arizona’s front office. The White Sox reportedly had their choice between Fletcher and Jake McCarthy and opted to go with Fletcher.  At the time of the trade, Flecher was fresh off a season where he had posted a .899 OPS in Triple-A and hit .301 with a pair of homers, 14 RBIs, and owned 115 OPS+ during his first 102 MLB at-bats. He looked to be the White Sox everyday right fielder during Spring Training. 

Fletcher took over center field duties after Luis Robert Jr. went down with a hip injury. Things didn’t go well for Fletcher. The White Sox sent him down in late April after he started the season slashing .203/.277/.271 with 20 strikeouts and just four walks in his first 59 at-bats.  

He was sent down to make room for Tommy Pham, a player who has no long-term future with the White Sox, which was a surprising decision considering the 2024 season was supposed to be about evaluating talent to see who can be a piece moving forward.

The 26-year-old still has his rookie status so growing pains were to be expected. But at this stage in Fletcher’s career, Triple-A at-bats won’t do much for his development. At least he was getting consistent at-bats with Charlotte. With the White Sox he will now have to “wait for his opportunity.” He didn’t even hit well with the Charlotte Knights, slashing .238/.319/.405 before the White Sox decided to call him back up which made the decision not to play him even more bizarre.

While Fletcher hasn’t been very productive offensively he is serviceable with the glove. His arm strength is certainly better than, Benintendi’s who has turned into a green light for baserunners to take an extra base every time a ball is hit in his direction. Fletcher hasn’t been good this season. But with a 14-33 record the White Sox have nothing to lose by playing Fletcher.

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