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'Pep in my step' - Eaton brings a dose of energy to White Sox

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - It is already clear that Adam Eaton will bring a lot of energy to the White Sox. His manager hopes some of that will help inspire his new teammates.

Though players didn't have to report until late last week, the 25-year-old outfielder has already been around the Sox spring facilities for a while. Eaton can't contain his excitement over the new season.

Eaton is one of the key additions to a White Sox team that lost 99 games in 2013. He was acquired from Arizona in a three-team deal that sent Chicago left-hander Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels. The Sox also brought in third-base prospect Matt Davidson from the Diamondbacks, and signed first baseman Jose Abreu to a six-year deal as the transition continues to a younger roster.

Changing organizations is like changing schools, Eaton said.

"Now that I've had about a month at the new school, it has been better," Eaton said as camp began for position players. "I have a little pep in my step. It will be a fun month until we have games that actually count. It should go quick."

While Eaton's outgoing personality is already helping him fit in, the adjustment to the White Sox may include batting leadoff — though manager Robin Ventura isn't ready to make that decision this early. It definitely will involve learning about a new league and, in particular, the pitchers in the American League Central.

"I'm used to the NL West," Eaton said. "I'm a rookie again and trying to learn the pitchers. Also playing defence, knowing how (teammates) are going to pitch certain hitters and to play accordingly. Once those games start, I'll feel more comfortable."

Ventura may not want to put any pressure on Eaton, who missed half of last season with an elbow injury incurred in spring training. But it's clear he sees the energetic centre fielder as a potential difference-maker.

"He comes in with an intensity that a lot of people don't have," Ventura said. "He has a lot of positives. Guys like him have been able to raise the intensity and the level of other people in the lineup and hopefully he can do that."

Last season never got started for Eaton, who was coming off a tremendous 2012 season at the Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate in Reno, where he batted .381 with a .456 on-base percentage and 38 stolen bases. His injury wiped out the first half of the season.

When he returned, he was in a battle for playing time. Eaton hit .252 with three homers in 66 games. His on-base percentage was .314, and he stole just five bases.

"For two stints, for four or five weeks each stint, I didn't hit at all," he said. "It was tough to come in in July where guys are hitting mid-season stride, for me to step right in as a rookie. (Coming back) was a little harder than I thought."

Eaton is still building arm strength with long-toss workouts, and says his elbow feels great. Unchanged through all this is his attitude, and the move to the White Sox will give him a fresh start.

"I put the (bad) season I had last year behind me already," Eaton said. "I'm ready to play baseball. We are all little kids out here, just playing on the playground."

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