Despite family scare, White Sox’ Yoan Moncada OK to play — ‘in safe environment’

“I’m bored,’ White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada said. “I want to start playing baseball again.”

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White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada was waiting out the coronavirus at his home in Miami in April when his baby girl became ill.

There were fears that little Angelina, a year and a half old, had contracted the dreaded virus. She was hospitalized for a few days while doctors tried to determine what was ailing her.

Moncada’s fiancée was allowed — thankfully — to stay with their toddler, but the hours felt like days and days like weeks for the couple. It was a reminder to a 25-year-old father of two of what really matters, especially at an uncertain time when health, safety and preciousness of life are at the forefront in everyone’s mind. 

A cornerstone piece of the Sox’ rebuild and statistically their best overall player in 2019, Moncada had signed a $70 million extension a month earlier, tacking those riches onto the record $31.5 million bonus he was given to sign with the Red Sox out of Cuba in 2015. But in the moment of uncertainty about his daughter’s well-being, none of the riches mattered.

There is a happy ending to this scary episode in Moncada’s life.

“In the end, thank God it was just a cold,” Moncada told the Chicago Sun-Times by phone this week.

“But those days were very, very tough, hard days for me and my family because I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if she had the [coronavirus]. The doctors were taking care of her, but they couldn’t do anything.”

As players appear to get closer to returning to baseball — and the potential risks that could come with it — the scare Moncada dealt with won’t be enough to make him fearful of entering the fray. Some players, especially those who are financially set for life, might push back against the possibility, but Moncada is prepared to join his teammates.

“It is complicated,” he said. “We’re talking about a very serious virus. If you get sick, it could be life-threatening. You think about it, and it’s not something to play around with. But hopefully everything will be all right, and we will return to a safe environment.

“[My family is] concerned, as everybody is. But if the conditions are safe, they’re going to be good with it. But it is a concern, no matter what.”

Under terms of the $70 million deal he signed for five years with a $25 million club option for 2025 and potentially buying out two free-agent years, Moncada was scheduled to earn $1 million in 2020. It was viewed by some as a very good deal for the Sox, who also locked up Eloy Jimenez ($46 million) long term last year and Luis Robert ($50 million) this year.

“We can objectively sit here today and feel like we have three of arguably the most exciting young players in the American League under control for the next six years,” general manager Rick Hahn said at the time.

As good as it looked for the Sox, economic uncertainties of the world in general and baseball specifically that didn’t exist in March make Moncada’s decision look good for him.

“Signing that contract secured my family,” Moncada said. “Obviously, I wasn’t thinking then about what’s happening right now, but it was a kind of relief having signed it and seeing all the things that are going on. This is going to sound [strange], but money is not everything. It’s a business, and I want to get paid, but I signed that contract because I want to stay with the team and play baseball for a very long time.”

And Moncada wants to play now.

“I’m bored,” he said. “This is the time of year we’re supposed to be playing. It’s been two months. These are circumstances we have to deal with right now, but I’m definitely anxious. I want to start playing baseball again.”

While in Miami, Moncada said he has done just enough to stay prepared, running, playing catch and swinging the bat “three or four times a week.”

“I’m the kind of player who needs just a little time to be ready, especially if you’re doing what you need to keep your body in shape,” he said.

Which, he joked, includes chasing his daughter, “who is running around” at 100 percent again.

“Yes, yes,” Moncada said. “She’s feeling good.”

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