Friday, March 21, 2008

Flu Blamed in Carlos Quentin's Decline

The battle is not always to the strong -- to paraphrase Ecclesiastes -- as evidenced in the case of power-hitting White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin, who is about to lose his starting job to light-hitting speedsters, Jerry Owens, Brian Anderson and Alexei Ramirez -- uh -- lest time and chance happeneth to them all.

Quentin is beginning to look like the latest can't-miss prospect to be cast into the sea, as his bout with the flu is being blamed for holding his spring batting average to the .230-240 range. Last year it was shoulder surgery which kept him from hitting more than .214.

It will be interesting to see whether manager Ozzie Guillen moves center field starter Nick Swisher to left once Quentin is sent to Triple A, thus opening a spot in center for Owens, who claims he can steal 80 bases if given a chance.

In any event, with his spring batting average approaching .450, Owens looks like a good bet to at least nab the fourth or fifth outfielder's spot, power or no power. Ramirez stands to make the roster as an invaluably versatile infield-outfield reserve.

His flu symptoms from earlier in camp most likely behind him now, Quentin looks healthy when observed recently during games at Tucson Electric Park, but the tipoff that he has fallen from favor is that he often comes into games as a late-inning substitution rather than appearing as a starter.