Moncada performing like he’s ready, but White Sox will wait

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Yoan Moncada is congratulated by third base coach Nick Capra after his seventh inning solo home run during a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in Glendale, Ariz., Wednesday, March 15, 2017. (John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star via AP)

BALTIMORE — Jose Abreu’s locker was next to Yoan Moncada’s at the White Sox’ spring-training complex in Glendale, Arizona, and the fellow Cubans, as you might expect, became close.

They’ve stayed in contact while Moncada, the prized second-base prospect acquired in the Chris Sale trade, builds on his first Class  AAA minor-league experience at Charlotte. Abreu, like everyone else, is well aware of how the 22-year-old switch-hitter is doing.

“He’s been hot,” Abreu said.

Yes, he has, said one reporter who has paid attention from a distance. It shouldn’t be too long before he’s here.

“Please,” Abreu said, looking up with a smile.

But based on what the Sox are saying, it seems reasonable to assume Moncada, who was 4-for-19 with 12 strikeouts in eight games with the Boston Red Sox last September, won’t be called up before July.

“The fact is, he does remain a 22-year-old that, coming into the year, had fewer than 200 plate appearances above A-ball,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “His development is by no means complete at the minor-league level, but he is making a great deal of progress, and we’re thrilled with where he’s at.”

Moncada, on a conference call with an interpreter Thursday, said he’s ready “and just waiting for the call.”

“They’re going to make that call whenever they think it’s the right time,” he said. “For me, it’s just about doing my job in Charlotte.”

He’s doing that well. Through Thursday, he was batting .340 with five homers, eight RBI and six stolen bases.

Right time for Willy

Willy Garcia started in right field, with Avisail Garcia taking a day at designated hitter Friday against Baltimore Orioles left-hander Wade Miley.

Willy Garcia had the top-rated arm in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization before they gave up on his hitting and let him go.

“Yes, I feel comfortable in right field,” he said through an interpreter. “That’s my house there.”

Garcia, whose strong throw home on Mark Trumbo’s single in the first inning temporarily prevented Seth Smith from scoring, said he likes a challenge. He turned things around at Charlotte, cutting down his strikeouts and building a .924 OPS.

“Now when I’m going to home plate, I’m going with a plan,” he said. “I’m going with a focus just to swing at good pitches — and not try to do too much.”

Frazier still out

Todd Frazier took some swings and went through light drills but missed a second straight game with back stiffness. He’s hopeful he can start Saturday.

Frazier’s bat had been coming around; he’s 10-for-36 (.278) with two homers, four doubles and nine RBI in his last 10 games. A nine-game hitting streak ended Wednesday in Kansas City.

“It’s the worst,” Frazier said of not playing. “You try and get on a roll and you have an oblique problem. You try and get on a roll and your back stiffens up on you. I must have tweaked something pretty good. Just have to keep getting after it.”

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.



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