GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox packed their bags and fled the desert Sunday, six weeks of spring training in the rearview mirror.
Looking back, there’s good, bad and ugly, too. The good consisting of strong performances from key players, the bad as in numerous injuries to top prospects — some severe — and the ugly being one too many uncalled-for fly balls, one of which resulted in an outfield crash involving opening-day left fielder Nicky Delmonico and utility infielder Tyler Saladino.
That one could’ve been worse, but the Sox were due for some good fortune on the injury front after weeks of sprains, soreness and a rupture involving key components of their promising rebuild.
As the Sox head for Charlotte for an exhibition against the Class AAA Knights (5:05 p.m., NBCSCH+), let’s review how it all went down in the desert.
Right-hander Lucas Giolito (2.04 ERA, 17 strikeouts, four walks in 17„ innings) followed a good late-season showing by pitching like the best starter on the staff, picking up some velocity and commanding an assortment of pitches that includes a curveball, slider and two changeups. He will follow opening-day starter James Shields in the rotation.
† Second baseman Yoan Moncada settled in nicely in the leadoff spot, finishing strong and batting .271 with eight walks, three stolen bases and three home runs, including a 441-foot blast.
† Adam Engel, getting another crack to start in center despite batting .166 last season because of his defense and speed, made more contact, batted .370 and slugged four homers.
† Designated hitter Matt Davidson batted .328 with eight extra-base hits, including four homers, and led the Cactus League with 19 RBI.
† Outfielder Eloy Jimenez managed to be a star in only nine plate appearances, blasting a pinch homer against the Cubs (who traded him) and hitting a homer and triple in his next two at-bats the next day.
† Right-hander Nate Jones looked fit and ready to anchor the bullpen, logging seven scoreless appearances after elbow surgery in July.
In a rebuilding year, there was an air of intrigue going into camp, knowing top prospects would get exposure on the major-league side, but one injury after another drained some life from it, especially 2017 first-rounder Jake Burger’s ruptured Achilles tendon that will sideline him for a season. Outfielder Micker Adolfo was sidelined by a sprained ulnar collateral ligament (but was and is able to get at-bats this season as a designated hitter). Outfield prospect Luis Robert’s sprained left thumb is in a cast because he caught it on a spike sliding into second base (he would later homer with the sprain), right-hander Alec Hansen was halted by forearm soreness (an MRI exam was clean) and Jimenez was limited because of knee tendinitis.
The morning after a game in which more than one fly ball or infield pop was misplayed, manager Rick Renteria ran the squad through pop-up drills. But days later, Delmonico injured his left shoulder and Saladino suffered a concussion when Delmonico didn’t call for a ball. The good news was both were said to be ready for opening day a week later, leaving the Sox better off health-wise on their opening-day roster than some teams that lost key players in the last week of camp.
All said and done
“All of us leave camp feeling you can do better,’’ Renteria said Sunday, his team well on its way to victory against the Brewers and a 16-12-1 record in Arizona.
“In the beginning, we had some hiccups that we targeted to clean up our communication in the outfield and infield. We had some cutoffs and rundowns that . . . didn’t develop well.’’
The Sox aren’t built to compete in 2018, but Renteria will keep the bar high on fundamentals.
“The mindset is to play as clean a game as we can,’’ he said.
As they say, that’s what spring training is for.
Let the real games begin.
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