White Sox’ Zack Collins ‘trying to control what I can control’
Collins, while showing some promise with his on-base percentage and power, hasn’t completely shed concerns about his catching.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — In a perfect world for Zack Collins, this would have been the season he carved out his niche as the White Sox’ No. 1 catcher.
But Collins, while showing some promise with his on-base percentage and power, hasn’t completely shed concerns about his catching. And when the Sox signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract during the offseason, the message was clear.
The Sox also brought back catcher James McCann for another year and signed Edwin Encarnacion to be their designated hitter, slamming the door shut on another possibility.
‘‘I tell everybody I control what I can control,’’ said Collins, who got the start at catcher in the Sox’ second game of the spring Monday. ‘‘Work, make minor adjustments every day and get better.’’
Collins, the No. 10 overall pick of the 2016 draft, struck out and popped out to third base in two plate appearances and caught five scoreless innings against the Dodgers.
With 26-man rosters coming this season, third catchers have enhanced possibilities. But Collins likely will open the season at Class AAA Charlotte.
‘‘I don’t know that it’s a development thing,’’ Collins said. ‘‘I think I’m ready for the big leagues. It’s just that right now I have two All-Stars ahead of me. The best thing for me might not be to play once a week or maybe not even that. . . . I need to continue improving my game for the good of my career.’’
Much of Collins’ introduction to the majors last season was spent on the bench, taking notes from McCann and taking pregame grounders at first. He batted .186/.307/.349 in 27 games but was 12-for-his-last-42 with four walks and two of his three home runs. The experience has heightened his comfort level this spring.
‘‘Obviously, the hitting part is fine,’’ Collins said. ‘‘Catching, I feel really good where I’m at. There are adjustments here and there to polish it up, but right now I feel good about it.’’
When the Sox needed a catcher in a pinch when Welington Castillo went on the concussion list last May, Seby Zavala got the call ahead of Collins. Zavala is a more advanced catcher, but he struck out nine times in 12 plate appearances.
In the Sox’ Cactus League opener Sunday against the Reds, Zavala homered to right-center field against right-hander Alex Powers. He thinks a more simplified approach at the plate will help his offense.
‘‘I was trying to do five things at once [last season], even in the cage,’’ Zavala said. ‘‘And when you’re thinking about five things at once, you’re not going to hit. The game was going real fast for me at the plate.’’
Zavala beefed up in the weight room, too.
‘‘I feel a lot stronger, more relaxed,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t need to use as much effort hitting. If I can show I can hit, there’s an opportunity for me to stick in the big leagues.’’
Manager Rick Renteria said Grandal, who came to camp with a mild calf strain but has participated in most regular work on the field, is a week to 10 days away from playing in a game.
‘‘We’re still trying to be conservative because you don’t want that to be reinjured,’’ Renteria said.