Renteria considering Moncada as White Sox leadoff man

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Yoan Moncada pops one up during a Cactus League game last week. (AP)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A game started by Clayton Kershaw, even on March 2, calls for everyone to be at their best.

Perhaps that’s why the White Sox had planned to feature — before shortstop Tim Anderson was scratched because of a personal matter — what could be their opening-day lineup when they faced Kershaw and the Dodgers on Friday.

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There was an interesting wrinkle at the top. Second baseman Yoan Moncada figures to get some extended time as the leadoff man.

“We’re exploring the possibility,’’ said manager Rick Renteria, who had talked to Moncada about the leadoff role. “He’s a high on-base guy. He’s a guy we can maybe slot in that role.’’

The switch hitter batted in five spots in the order in his rookie season, but not leadoff.

But “he likes the leadoff role,’’ Renteria said. “He likes hitting second. He gives me another option. If I can find somebody who is comfortable in that situation, and if he can manage that, maybe we found a guy we can use effectively in that role.’’

Moncada, the No. 1-ranked prospect in baseball in 2017, batted .231/.338/.412 with eight homers, 22 RBI and 29 walks in 54 games after getting called up July 19. In his last 21 games, he batted .299 with an .882 OPS.

Moncada batted second 34 times, fourth three times, fifth six times and seventh twice.

“We’ll see how it develops,’’ Renteria said.

Moncada walked twice in four plate appearances and scored twice against the Dodgers. He was robbed of a hit against Kershaw on a nice play in the infield.

Here’s how Renteria lined his team up: Moncada 2B, Leury Garcia SS (for scratched Anderson), Jose Abreu 1B, Avisail Garcia RF, Matt Davidson DH, Welington Castillo C, Nicky Delmonico LF, Yolmer Sanchez 3B, Adam Engel CF.

Engel, who is not a lock to open the season in center, improved his chances after hitting a home run in the third inning against Tom Koehler for his second hit of the spring.

The Sox also are giving Ryan Cordell, acquired from the Brewers in the Anthony Swarzak trade, a look in center and have outfield-infield utility man Leury Garcia if necessary.

NOTES: Outfielder Eloy Jimenez has patella tendinitis in his left knee and will be out for at least two days as he takes an anti-inflammatory that “hopefully will take effect in the next couple of days,’’ Renteria said.

“It’s something he can play with, something he can work through. Hopefully, we’ll see how he’s progressing over the next couple of days with the medication and get him out there working again.’’

Jimenez, who is ranked as the No. 4 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, hasn’t played since the spring opener Feb. 23.

Asked if expects to see Jimenez play again this spring, Renteria said, “I hope so, yes.”

υ Right-hander Gregory Infante (shoulder), who had a 3.13 ERA in 52 games in relief last season, hasn’t pitched in a game yet but will throw a bullpen session Sunday or Monday.

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