White Sox’ Yoan Moncada turning to mentor Jose Abreu for offensive guidance
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MINNEAPOLIS — Yoan Moncada calls Jose Abreu by his longtime nickname, “Pito,” which in Spanish means “whistle.” But that’s not much of a window into the White Sox players’ relationship, is it?
Put it this way: The 22-year-old Moncada has looked up to the 31-year-old Abreu for a long time. Idolized him, even. One Cuban ballplayer grew up wanting to be like the other. Now they share a clubhouse, and Abreu’s mentorship is one of the most influential factors in Moncada’s development.
“Pito is always talking to me and giving me advice,” Moncada said through an interpreter.
After Thursday’s 4-0 loss to the Twins, during which Moncada struck out three times — for the third game in a row — the pair spent some much-needed time together.
“We sat down and talked for a long time just trying to figure it out, how he’s feeling at home plate and what is happening to his mind in his at-bats,” Abreu said through the same interpreter. “It was just to get deep into his thinking process when he is at home plate.”
Moncada — batting .184, with 24 strikeouts in 49 at-bats this season — was a hot commodity from a very young age. Abreu figures it is the first time in the switch-hitting second baseman’s life he has dealt with a start quite like this one.
“My advice for him has always been you can’t control what people think or what people expect of you, but you can control what you can do and expect from yourself,” Abreu said. “Confidence is a big key for him, and he’s already confident in himself. I don’t doubt the talent he has, and I think nobody does. It’s just a matter of getting him through this moment. We all know he has the talent to do it.”
Sox fans will be excited to learn they can watch prized prospect Michael Kopech pitch Saturday. Sorry, no, it won’t be in a big-league game. But Kopech will be on the hill for the Class AAA Charlotte Knights against the dreaded Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in a 6 p.m. contest on NBCSCH. Hey, it is better than nothing.
It’ll be the second start of the season for the flame-throwing right-hander, who turns 22 on April 30. Kopech went a scoreless four innings in his first start, allowing only two hits, walking two and striking out eight.
Circle June 4 on your calendar. The Sox and Twins both have that day off before a series at Target Field. It would be a natural time for a makeup game after the weather-affected series the teams are trying to get in this weekend.