SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Outfielder Jon Jay was off the lineup card for a third consecutive day with a sore hip, manager Rick Renteria said, and will ease back in starting Monday in a minor-league game.
Jay, who has been Renteria’s leadoff man throughout the Cactus League season, likely won’t play in the field and will leadoff every inning to accumulate at-bats.
“Just spring-training soreness,” said Jay, who logged time on the exercise bike Sunday and was moving around the clubhouse with no noticeable discomfort. “Trying to be smart about being ready for Opening Day.’’
The Sox open the season March 28 against the Royals in Kansas City. Jay, who turned 34 on Friday, is batting .355/.394/.548 with two homers and eight RBI in 11 games. A career .285/352/.378 hitter, Jay signed a one-year, $4 million deal in January.
Jose Rondon will likely make the Opening Day roster because he his played four infield positions, and he’s branching out to make himself available in the outfield. Rondon said he felt comfortable when he played eight innings in left field in a B game Friday, and he said he played seven games in the outfield in Venezuela over the winter.
Outfield coach Daryl Boston has worked with Rondon in the field during batting practice with an emphasis on getting good jumps on balls, Rondon said.
For a utility player, Rondon has some thump in his bat. He clubbed 18 homers in 80 games at Class AAA Charlotte and six with the Sox while batting .230/.280/.470 in 42 games last season. His 24 homers were second only to Daniel Palka’s 27 in the Sox organization.
“Adding another position to my skill set is going to be good,” said Rondon, 25, who was acquired from the Padres for cash considerations before the 2018 season. “It should open more possibilities.”
Kopech on the mend
Michael Kopech, the Sox’ prized pitching prospect out for the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, said he’s playing catch from 75 feet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“It’s kind of up and down, but it’s part of the process,” Kopech said. “There are days when it doesn’t feel good, and there are days when I feel like I can pitch already. Fortunately for me, I have a lot of time to get things back to normal.’’
General manager Rick Hahn said Kopech’s biggest challenge will be the mental side going through a long rehab, and perhaps dealing with boredom. Kopech said he’s doing OK.
“I’m at a place of peace,’’ he said. “I know baseball is not my end-all, be-all. I do this because I love it. It’s fun to get to be here around the guys, get along further into the program and get ready for next year. At the same time, I’m not too anxious and not too -worried. I’m in a good spot.’’
Reminded at the outset of Week 6 of camp that the season opener is 11 days away, Renteria said, “Thank goodness.’’
“I’m ready,’’ he said. “We’re all ready. Getting to that point in the spring where we’re whittling down the [number of players in the] room, you get out there and want to play these games and get the season started.’’
Renteria wants to see execution and a “sharper” brand of ball. The Sox close out spring training with exhibitions against the Diamondbacks next Monday and Tuesday.