Rookie third baseman Josh Fields of the White Sox was one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2007 season, stepping up to knock in 23 homers in 375 at-bats as a replacement for injured Joe Crede.
But with Crede down with recurring back trouble again, Fields is nowhere to be found this year, having been banished to Triple A Charlotte where he is hitting just .251. Worse is that even though Fields is a right-handed hitter, he has been unable to hit lefties for any better than a .245 clip, and hardly can be expected to be promoted even though he has eight homers.
Fields is only 25, with plenty of time to improve, but the season is beginning to get old and he looks more each day like the White Sox might have done well last winter to consider him a sell-high candidate.
Meanwhile, Crede once again shows why no team was willing to trade much for him last spring, even though the team claimed his back troubles were -- er -- behind him. Preliminary indications are that the latest soreness in his lower back may not be especially serious, but having undergone spinal surgery, one cannot help but wonder whether he may be a time bomb waiting to self-destruct. Statistically, he has a 33 percent chance that the surgery could eventually be considered a failure.
Look for Pablo Ozuna to pick up most of Crede's at-bats for now.