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Defense will be offseason focus for White Sox catcher Zack Collins

Rookie Zack Collins is bent on proving his defense is good enough for the major leagues.

Catcher Zack Collins, left, and relief pitcher Alex Colome celebrate after a White Sox win game against the Seattle Mariners, Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, in Seattle. (AP)
AP Photos

Rookie Zack Collins is bent on proving he belongs defensively as a major-league catcher. To that end, the White Sox’ 2016 first-round draft pick said he’ll be getting after it more this offseason when it comes to his routine back home in South Florida.

“I plan to work a little more on my catching this year,” Collins said Wednesday before he started behind the plate against the Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I worked a little bit last offseason but this year I’m going to take it to the next level and come to spring training ready to go.’’

Collins got his ninth start at catcher, handling left-hander Ross Detwiler. He started 12 games at designated hitter and one at first base. He still has plenty to prove behind the plate, but his confidence level remains high.

“The more reps I get back there the better I feel,” Collins said. “The main goal is to stay back there. I’ve kind of learned how to prepare between games when I’m not catching, going off the machine, working our bullpen guys. Blocking, catching guys’ bullpens.”

With Eloy Jimenez out Wednesday and Collins (.164/.291/.342) riding a six-game hitting streak, manager Rick Renteria plugged the left-handed hitter in the No. 5 spot in his lineup against right-hander Shane Bieber. It’s the highest Jimenez has batted in the order this season.

The Sox scored two unearned runs in a three-run first on Collins’ soft tap to first baseman Carlos Santana, who overthrew catcher Roberto Perez, allowing Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu to score.

As the final week of the season winds down, Collins looks ahead to his first offseason knowing what challenges the major leagues will bring.

“The biggest difference is the stage you’re on,” he said. “Everything can kind of blow up on you real quick. With the amount of fans, being on TV and stuff like that, it can get to you. The guys who perform the best are able to block that out.”

Jimenez stays home sick

Jimenez stayed home with “a little bit of an infection in his ears and throat,” Renteria said.

“It’s contagious, so I’d rather have no one else get sick. Let him rest today and hopefully be back tomorrow.”

Jimenez, who leads American League rookies with 30 homers and all major-league hitters with 23 RBI in September, is hitting .373/.407/.696 with eight homers and 25 RBI in his last 24 games.

Stay focused

Yoan Moncada is having a big year at the plate and his defense in his first year at third base also has been a plus, but Renteria is holding the bar high on Moncada. Staying alert on the little things is part of that.

In the Sox’ loss Tuesday, Moncada was late getting to the cutoff position on a single to left field, “which we talked to him about,” Renteria said.

“Things like that, just getting better at all the little things that he’s got to do,” Renteria said.

“We want them to get better. We address them, and they’re pretty good. They’re going to get better.”

This and that

Right-hander Dylan Covey (1-8, 7.98 ERA), who has dealt with a sore shoulder off and on this season, won’t pitch during the final days of the season.

• Renteria on what impressed him the most about Jimenez this season: “His focus, concentration, his jovialness. He’s a pretty good character. He doesn’t allow things to get him down, which for a young person is important.”