White Sox’ Yoan Moncada looking for some action at third base

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Yoan Moncada of the Chicago White Sox throws the ball to make an out against the San Francisco Giants during the spring game at Scottsdale Stadium on February 25, 2019 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Yoan Moncada is trying to get acclimated to third base.

It isn’t easy when nobody hits baseballs to you.

“The only action I get is when the hitter strikes out and the catcher throws the ball to me,” Moncada said through translator Billy Russo.

Oh, and there was a foul ball to pick up that one time.

“Yeah it is weird,’’ Moncada said Friday. “Nobody is hitting the ball that way. Hopefully [Saturday]. I will be ready.’’

Moncada did get to make a play Saturday, charging a slow roller and throwing across the diamond for an out, so that’s two plays in five games as he makes a transition from second base to third base this spring. His only other chance was five days earlier, and it took a deflection off the pitcher for him to get involved. Moncada pounced on it in front of shortstop Tim Anderson and made a slick play with a strong throw to first.

Moncada is getting plenty of work at the hot corner, though, spending quality minutes with coach Joe McEwing at the Sox’ spring-training complex.

“I’ve been practicing every day, twice a day,” Moncada said. “During BP, and then after I go to another field with Super Joe. The extra work is helping me get more comfortable.’’

Moncada has played third before — he broke in there for eight games in 2016 as the Red Sox’ top prospect. So it’s not strange to him. But it takes time getting reacquainted.

“At third base you have to be more focused and more alert,” he said. “It’s a position where you have to react, almost without thinking. You have to focus on what’s going on at all times.’’

Moncada singled sharpy up the middle, struck out swinging after fouling off three pitches with a full count, walked and scored a run against the Rockies Saturday. He is off to a crisp start at the plate, 6-for-13 with a double and triple in Cactus LEague games. He has also struck out six times, after racking up 217 Ks last season.

The intention this spring is to be more aggressive to avoid getting called out on strikes. A keen eye for the strike zone is something to build on, but he admittedly was too picky and took too many third strikes last season.

“This year I will be more aggressive in my at-bats,” he promised. “I’m going to try to keep my same approach, but be more aggressive with the borderline pitches, defend the strike zone better, and make more contact. I learned from last year. It’s something I can improve, and elevate my offense to another level.”


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Moncada was called out on strikes on a pitch he should have taken a hack at against the Mariners Thursday, a reminder the change won’t happen overnight.

“He’s very cognizant of what he’s trying to do,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The conversations he had over the winter with Trick [hitting coach Todd Steverson], those are playing a role about how he’s going about doing his business. He’s got an idea and kind of a platform they put together to allow him to try to build on.”

Said teammate Jose Abreu: “You can see right now the way that he’s playing and the confidence he’s showing on the field, even now with the new things that he’s doing, his new position.

“I believe in him and I think we all know the special talent he has, the special player he can be.”

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