Yoan Moncada had to take a long glance before finding his name listed eighth in the lineup Friday before the Sox’ 1-0 victory against the visiting Indians.
It marked the lowest spot in the batting order for Moncada since he joined the Sox last season. The 23-year-old primarily has led off, but a prolonged slump prompted Rick Renteria to make a change.
Moncada (1-for-2, one walk) has 164 strikeouts, most in the majors, and is hitting a paltry .132 (10-for-76) since the All-Star break.
“Trying to give [Moncada] a break, push him back a little bit,” Renteria said. “Still need him to be in there. We need him to get his at-bats. We’re going to give him a little breath as opposed to just sitting him and not playing him. Have him watch other guys go about their business.”
The strategy paid off in Moncada’s first at-bat, when he drew a walk on five pitches. That gave him 50 walks. His on-base percentage is now .302.
The Sox want Moncada to be aggressive at the plate without being reckless.
“There are times and situations where pitches are manageable, they’re hittable, you can do things with them,” Renteria said. “They don’t have to be completely in the box, they just need to be in a manageable area. The one thing we don’t want him to do, like all our hitters, we don’t want them to be chasing balls in the dirt, getting so far outside the zone that it compromises their good eye.”
Nicky Delmonico (0-for-3, two strikeouts) led off for the second time in his career.
Matt Klug visited Guaranteed Rate Field for the first time since the Sox selected him in the 38th round out of Brookwood (Georgia) High School in the 2018 draft.
Klug was far from a typical draft pick. He lost his mother in 2016 and his father one year later, and his high school coach nominated him for a local Positive Athlete award because of the way he inspired his teammates.
Sox scout Kevin Burrell suggested the selection of Klug, who will attend the University of North Georgia. He plans to study business and hopes to work in baseball.
Klug chatted with players before the game and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. His life has changed since being drafted.
“We’ve just gotten so many calls and texts,” Klug said. “The support has been really crazy. I already had a new outlook on life when my parents passed away, but seeing these big-time players and scouts taking a little story like mine and blowing it up for me, it’s just been really cool.”