Opening Day is less than two weeks away and Yoan Moncada, a big bat in the White Sox lineup, is falling behind the rest of the gang with each passing day.
Placed on the 10-day injured list Friday, Moncada has not been in summer camp preparing for the July 24 opener with the rest of his teammates, and he described his hitting time in Miami waiting for the season to start up as “limited.”
Hitting coach Frank Menechino, unsure of what Moncada has been allowed to do in recent days, was unsure how many at-bats Moncada would need to be ready when he comes off the IL.
“A tough question,” he said, then adding that 20 seems about right.
“Listen, he’s a great athlete, and I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later for him,” Menechino said. “Once he sees his teammates playing, he’ll want to get in there. And that might not be such a bad thing. If he’s in shape and he’s ready to handle the workload, I think he’ll get in there pretty quick.”
Although it hasn’t been announced because of privacy restrictions, Moncada and right-hander Jose Ruiz are believed to be the two Sox who tested positive for the coronavirus. The two players who did are asymptomatic.
Players who are positive must pass consecutive tests before they can return.
While teams generally play about 30 Cactus League games in Arizona to prep for a season, this year they will play three exhibitions. Live batting practice and daily intrasquads are all hitters get between now and then. And they came in with varying degrees of sharpness.
“When we first started [in camp], I was kind of nervous,” Menechino said. “I was like, ‘All right, let me see where these guys are at.’ And to be honest with you, they’re pretty good right now. They’re still trying to pick out an approach. And that goes with — you’re facing your own pitching, the intent’s not there and you really don’t have a gameplan against them. So approaching these intrasquad games, I’m pleased with the timing on the fastball, and I’m pleased with the reaction stuff that they’re doing. I feel they’re right where they need to be. I think it’s going to only get better.”
Other bits from Menechino’s call Saturday: Catcher Zack Collins’ work appears to be showing results. “He’s definitely getting better, and he’s starting to realize his keys, he’s starting to realize everything that he needs to do.”
*Easing in without crowds could be a good thing for rookie Luis Robert, if say, he goes into an 0-for-10 streak. It could allow him “to ease into it and get comfortable with it and to really check and see where he’s at,” although playing without fans presents its own challenges. “I would have loved to see 162 games so he could make adjustments and stuff, but it is what it is and I think he’s just going to go out there, actually see what it’s about. ...He’s going to go out there and be Luis Robert. We’re going to see what he can do. It’s going to be a great test for him.”
Robert homered to center against Carlos Rodon in the intrasquad Saturday, twisting on his follow through, losing his balance and falling in the left-handed batter’s box.
*Nick Madrigal looks physically stronger. “He must’ve hit the weights or regained some of his strength back, and he looks really good.”
On the Sox lineup: “We’re going to score runs. And I think we’re going to have guys not feeling like they have to do it all. One through nine can do damage, one through nine can score runs.”
*The hitting coaches made adjustments with new right fielder Nomar Mazara, who homered against Jimmy Lambert in the intrasquad Saturday, “and he’s taken to them, and he looks really good. And his rhythm, his bat path is really cleaned up, and I’m really happy with what he’s doing. And I can see a sense of confidence in him just by the way he does his work, the way he’s going about his business. I’m really pleased with what he’s doing, and so is he.”