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."
Axelrod having success as a 'crafty' righty
CHICAGO -- In three of Dylan Axelrod's four starts this season, the right-hander has given the White Sox a viable chance to win. Two of those starts have been of the quality variety, even if Axelrod doesn't possess pure stuff.
"When a lefty is throwing the way he is, he's crafty and knows how to pitch," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Axelrod's style. "Where a righty does it, people don't know why or how.
"But he has the ability to make guys miss. That's not easy to do, especially with him working off counts and hitters' aggressiveness. He finds a way to do it. Guys mis-hit balls and he gets quite a few swings and misses."
Axelrod, 27, shuttled between Triple-A Charlotte, the White Sox bullpen and the starting rotation in 2012, putting up impressive efforts at Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards and Fenway Park. He's currently filling in for John Danks as the fifth starter and has definitely benefited from the consistency of throwing every fifth day.
"You go in the bullpen and you gotta be prepared to pitch every day," Axelrod said. "Here, I know I'm going every five days and I have a few off-days in between. I can get after it in the weight room and watch video and do everything to get my body ready. It's nice because when you are bouncing back and forth, it's tough physically to prepare.
"I can get a full side [session] in without stressing about pitching the next day or having something happen. Just from a physical standpoint, I can really push myself in the weight room knowing I have days to recover. I think in the long run, I'll feel a lot stronger every fifth day just getting that regular work in."
As for people being surprised by Axelrod's effectiveness, such as the one run he held Cleveland to over six innings Monday, Axelrod smiles and makes it clear that he's not worried about style points.
"People are like, 'How are you getting people out?' And I don't know," said Axelrod, who matches up with David Price on Sunday against the Rays. "I just go out there and compete and try to make my pitches, execute a game plan.
"So, I just try to get people out. I don't care how I do it. It might not look pretty, but if I can get it done. It's all worth it. It's all working."
Tekotte gets opportunity in center field
CHICAGO -- Blake Tekotte became the third outfielder to start in Dayan Viciedo's absence, with the left fielder going on the disabled list Saturday with a strained left oblique. Jordan Danks has made two starts, Dewayne Wise has made one and two games have been postponed.
"Just get him out there and see what he can do," Ventura said of Tekotte, adding that he doesn't like players to sit too long without playing after coming up from the Minors. "You just mix and match and if one of them gets hot, you probably run with it. It's like with Gordon [Beckham] out. You mix and match and you have the ability to do that unless somebody forces you not to."
Wise, 35, has been playing professionally since 1997 and has held a utility role for pretty much the entirety of 11 big league seasons. He knows how to get ready with limited at-bats, even though it's not an easy task.
"It's really tough, especially with the beginning of the season with the weather," Wise said. "I knew coming back over here this year that I probably wouldn't get the playing time I did last year. You know, I'm a veteran guy. I know how to prepare myself to stay ready when I get the opportunity.
"But it's tough. You have to go out and prepare every day so when you do get in there, you give it the best you can."
Third to first
• The White Sox game Thursday night against the Rays has been switched to Comcast Sportsnet Plus because of the Chicago Bulls basketball game. Cable viewers in the Chicago metro area can see the game on CLTV. All other cable subscribers should consult their channel guide.
• Despite another cold day in Chicago on Wednesday, manager Robin Ventura refuses to use weather as an excuse for early struggles.
"We're at a level where it's about wins and losses. I'm not looking for a feel-good thing right now," Ventura said. "We just need to play better, whether it's raining or cold, the other team is out there too and we have to figure out a way to do it."
Ventura remains open to potential lineup alterations.
"Things could change and guys could move around, especially if the lineup doesn't seem to be working," Ventura said. "You can move them around, you can sit them down and talk to them and tell them why."
Adam Dunn recorded his first multi-walk game of the season with three in Wednesday's 3-2 win. He had 23 multi-walk games in 2012 but just three walks this season.