Sooner than expected, Andrew Vaughn returns to White Sox lineup

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Andrew Vaughn is healing quickly.

When you have a swing Paul Konerko admires, that’s a good thing for the White Sox.

Vaughn, who suffered a hip point diving for a fly ball last Sunday, returned to the Sox lineup for their Cactus League game against the Rockies Sunday at Camelback Ranch, five days before the season opener in Detroit Friday. Vaughn was penciled in as the designated hitter in a lineup that looked very much like an Opening Day possibility:

Tim Anderson SS, Luis Robert CF, Jose Abreu 1B, Yasmani Grandal C, Eloy Jimenez LF, Yoan Moncada RF, AJ Pollock RF, Josh Harrison 2B, Vaughn DH, Lucas Giolito P.

“I mean, when it happened I really didn’t think it was going to go this quick,” Vaughn said Sunday of his swift recovery. “Two days after, I was walking. I could feel the bruise, but just kind of see how I feel and I feel good.”

When Vaughn went off the field on a cart, the possibility of him being ready by Opening Day seemed slim. On Sunday he said he felt well enough to play the outfield.

“He’s moving around terrific,” manager Tony La Russa said. “I reprimanded him for that act he put on that had us worried it was much more serious. He smiled. I would have never guessed he would be playing today. Tough guy, strong guy.”

Vaughn spoke moments before Konerko addressed the team in the clubhouse. Konerko, who lives in the Phoenix area, usually visits the Sox complex during spring training but chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and manager Tony La Russa asked him to speak this time.

Konerko had an attentive audience.

“You could hear a pin drop,” Vaughn said.

“The gist was,” Konerko said, “and I think everybody in there knows, simply because they’ve built up to it, what you need to do to win in October and what kind of player you need to be, what kind of team you need to be.”

Vaughn, who celebrated his 23rd birthday Sunday, and Konerko, 46, had connected before. Konerko likes Vaughn’s swing path and his polish at such a young age.

“He has that leg kick which is different in terms of, he has a bigger move to get ready,” Konerko said. “He obviously is on time with it and pulls it off. But once everything is kind of down, his path and his swing and what he’s trying to do … at such an early age to already have the mannerisms of that seasoned hitter is what sticks out.”

Vaughn batted .235/.309/.396 last season with 15 homers and 48 RBI. He is 7-for-15 with a home run this spring.

“You see guys that have it but he’s a young guy who doesn’t have a whole lot of reps under his belt that already has that professional hitter vibe,” Konerko said. “That’s what sticks out. Took me like 20 years to even sniff that so it always sticks out when you see a guy who hasn’t been around that has it.”

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