Renteria likes Moncada, Avi at top of White Sox’ lineup

SHARE Renteria likes Moncada, Avi at top of White Sox’ lineup

Tim Anderson bats during a baseball spring exhibition game against the Dodgers, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Reynaldo Lopez had one bad inning — a four-run Cubs fourth — after breezing through three scoreless frames, in the White Sox’ 6-3 loss Friday before a sellout crowd of 13,044 at Camelback Ranch.

Lopez, who figures to start in the middle of the Sox starting rotation, gave up home runs to Willson Contreras and Mike Freeman and also allowed a double off the fence to Ian Happ, whom Lopez had struck out his first two times up.

Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish held the Sox to a run on three hits in five innings, striking out four, walking one and giving up three hits.

Lopez allowed eight hits and a walk while striking out three. Five of the hits came in the third.

Lopez chalked it up as having one bad inning and overall having a good preparation session for the regular season. He threw 80 pitches.

“I wasn’t as aggressive with some pitches as I was in the innings before,” he said through a translator. “They hit a few broken bat singles. I executed some pitches and there was some bad luck.”

Avisail Garcia bounced a double over the center field fence against Darvish and homered against Cubs closer Brandon Morrow. Garcia was doubled off second after the double when Albert Almora made a diving catch on Jose Abreu’s sinking liner. Garcia also made a leaping catch at the fence to rob Contreras of extra bases, a play that earned a doff of the helmet from the Cubs catcher.

Moncada and Garcia at the top

Garcia and Moncada both homered against the Cubs and Sox manager Rick Renteria suggested that 1-2 combination at the top of his lineup against the Cubs is one you might see for a while.

Renteria was batting Tim Anderson second early in spring training, a spot the free-swinging shortstop prefers, but the manager said he now prefers Anderson lower in the order where more RBI opportunities exist, he said. Anderson batted .257 in his first full season in 2017 with a low .276 on-base percentage thanks in large part to only 13 walks.

Garcia batted .330 with a .380 OBP in his All-Star season. Moncada, who takes more pitches and draws more walks than Anderson, produced a .231/.338/.412 hitting line in 54 games last season.

Renteria said having Anderson lower in the order allows him to be himself.

“I don’t want to change who he is,” Renteria said.

“Timmy puts the bat on the ball a lot and when he does it’s a positive outcome. Not putting him in a situation where we’re worrying about him getting on, as opposed to if guys are on base we know his ball in play is high and he’s driving in a few more runs. And if he clears the bases here’s another guy who can run on the bottom of the order and start it back up again. Give more guys on the top of the order another opportunity to generate runs.”

Garcia batted fourth (71) or fifth (40) in most of his games last season. He batted second only twice, going 1-for-7 with two walks.

Here’s how the Sox lined up Friday:

Moncada 2B, Garcia RF, Abreu 1B, Davidson DH, Delmonico LF, Castillo C, Anderson SS, Sanchez 3B, Engel CF.

Ross on roll

Left-hander Robbie Ross Jr., a late-arriving spring invitee, logged his fourth straight relief appearance. Ross has allowed two hits and a walk and has five strikeouts.

Shielding the announcement

Renteria continued to put off naming his opening day starter, even though it’s generally accepted around the clubhouse that James Shields will get the nod March 29 in Kansas City.

It stands to reason, based on how the other starters’ schedules have been lined up, that Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Miguel Gonzalez would follow in that order. The fifth spot is probably between a struggling Carson Fulmer and left-hander Hector Santiago, who have been pitching on the same day.

Upcoming starters

Gonzalez Saturday vs. Dodgers, Shields Sunday vs. Athletics, Fulmer Monday vs. Diamondbacks, Giolito Tuesday vs. Rangers.

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