GLENDALE, Ariz. — With better hitters to choose from, manager Rick Renteria expects to have a more set lineup in 2020. Look for it to start with Tim Anderson or Yoan Moncada.
“I still consider Timmy and Moncada a possibility up there,” Renteria said Thursday.
Anderson (.357) and Moncada (.367) led the White Sox in on-base percentage in 2019, Anderson walking 15 times but doing his on-base part with a major-league-high .335 batting average. Moncada walked 40 times and was third in the American League in average at .315. Both prefer batting second but are willing to lead off.
“I like the two-hole, but I’m here to deliver whatever they need,” Anderson said. “If [leading off] is what helps us win a championship, then, yeah, I’m open to whatever ideas anybody has. If I get on, [Moncada] can bat from the other side and hit one in the gap, and just like that, it’s 1-0.”
Anderson led off only four times last year, with Leury Garcia holding down the leadoff spot 134 times. Renteria seems to be leaning toward Anderson, with Moncada second.
“You’re looking at two guys at the top of the order that can run a little bit,” Renteria said. “Try to make sure we take advantage of those opportunities that are given to us with the speed he has at the top of the order. I’m not trying to alert anybody that we’re going to be running more, but we can take advantage of the skills he brings to the table.”
Renteria said it’s too soon for prized rookie Luis Robert, who has yet to play a major-league game, to be considered.
After using a whopping 143 combinations last season, Renteria expects to use “a more consistent set of guys, one through nine,” with the additions of Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion, Nomar Mazara and Robert to the lineup.
One benefit of a better lineup should be fewer bunt signs from the dugout.
“Do I still want all my guys to be able to do it? Absolutely,” Renteria said. “I want them to be limitless ballplayers that know how to do all things in the game. But hopefully that won’t have to be the case, and when we end up doing it, everybody will be surprised.”
Nick Madrigal put on seven pounds in the offseason, and so far, so good with the extra size and strength.
“My body feels more functional out there; it feels like I move better in my legs,” Madrigal said.
“It was one of the longest offseasons I’ve had in baseball, so I wanted to add a few pounds just to feel more healthy. I felt really good last year [his first in professional ball] and kept my strength pretty well, but I knew I could add some. I wasn’t trying to change what kind of player I am; it was just more to stay healthy.”
Madrigal, who looks shorter than the 5-8 he’s listed at, is competing for the Opening Day second-base job against Garcia and Danny Mendick.
Tim makes the cover
Anderson and Cubs shortstop Javy Baez will be featured on the regional cover of Sports Illustrated’s preseason baseball issue, making Anderson the first Sox player to grace the magazine’s cover since Jose Abreu in 2014 and Mark Buehrle in 2009. Anderson did a photo shoot Thursday, which was photo day at camp.