GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Abreu arrived at camp Sunday, and prized center-field prospect Luis Robert did, too, a day after Yoan Moncada got to the White Sox’ spring-training complex. And with that, the Sox’ Cuban triumvirate, all in a row by the entrance to the clubhouse, has been filled out.
It’s Abreu, the established star, on the left, with Robert stationed between him and Moncada, who’s about to enter his second full season in the majors.
Robert won’t play in the big leagues this year. He’ll likely spend most of it at Class AA Birmingham as he strives to complete his first injury-free season. Before then, he’ll show what he can do in Cactus League games.
And he’ll keep his eyes and ears open.
“It’s very important to have them by my side,” Robert, 21, said of Abreu and Moncada. “Abreu is a veteran, he knows the league and he knows the things you need to do in order to get better. Moncada is a young guy, but he has experience, too. Because he’s younger, I can relate more with him. We’re always trying to have fun, but they’re always giving me advice on how to think, how to get a better routine and how to get better in order to take advantage of my abilities.”
Robert, whom the Sox signed to a $26 million international bonus in 2017 (they also paid an additional $26 million for exceeding their international bonus pool), was limited to 50 games in 2018, including 32 at advanced Class A Winston-Salem, mostly due to a thumb injury. At the Arizona Fall League, he made a strong late push to salvage the year by hitting .324/.367/.432 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 18 games after hitting .269/.333/.360 with no homers and 11 RBI in the summer. He missed time in the fall league, too, with a tight hamstring.
“This will be a big year for him in terms of his progression,” manager Rick Renteria said.
“This year, he hopefully gets a complete year under his belt healthy, which will, to be honest, tell us a lot about where he’s at. We all love what he’s capable of doing; we all love the physical skill.”
The gang’s all here
The first full-squad workout is Monday. Abreu made his first appearance Sunday, rounding out the squad, although not all position players have been here every day.
“I think these guys understand where we’re at,” Renteria said. “They know this is a big year for us, an important year for us. We’ve got guys that have been in the big leagues now for a couple of years, and we’re anticipating they’ll raise their game, and the overall picture will continue to improve.”
This and that
Right-handed reliever Kelvin Herrera, recovering from a torn Lisfranc ligament, is throwing side sessions and is capable of throwing live batting practice. He is expected to be ready shortly after Opening Day, if not by then. Herrera signed a two-year, $18 million deal last month.
* Mark Salas has hung up his classic old-school mitt after 18 seasons and two stints as bullpen catcher, leaving former catcher Miguel Gonzalez and Luis Sierra to handle bullpen duties in 2019. Salas, who turns 58 next month, has battled knee problems in recent years.