Kevin Youkilis starts off hitting second for White Sox

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White Sox No. 2 hitters have batted a pathetic .215/.265/.323 this season. He won’t have to be the old Kevin Youkilis to improve on that.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura will ask Youkilis to help set the table for Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko following his acquisition from the Red Sox on Sunday. Here’s the lineup for tonight’s game against the Twins:

CF Alejandro De Aza
3B Youkilis
DH Dunn
1B Konerko
RF Alex Rios
C A.J. Pierzynski
LF Dayan Viciedo
SS Alexei Ramirez
2B Gordon Beckham

Beckham had been hitting second for the White Sox of late and doing a pretty decent job of it. While his OBP there was just .315, he was hitting .265 with seven homers and 25 RBI in 44 starts. The other three guys to start there this season had been horrible:

Brent Morel: .140/.196/.163 in 43 AB
Alexei Ramirez: .143/.160/.224 in 49 AB
Brent Lillibridge: .050/.130/.050 in 20 AB

On paper at least, this looks like a big improvement. The White Sox have five players slugging better than .450 this season, and their biggest hole has now been covered over by a former All-Star. Now we’ll just have to wait and see what he has left.

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.