Yoan Moncada out of White Sox’ lineup for series opener against Cubs

Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal returned to the White Sox’ lineup, but Yoan Moncada was out Friday night.

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Yoan Mocanda bats during a game against the Tigers Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

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Center fielder Luis Robert and catcher Yasmani Grandal returned to the White Sox’ lineup after missing two and three games with a sore right hand and a sore back, respectively, but a big bat was missing Friday, when the Sox opened a three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Third baseman Yoan Moncada was out after appearing to be less than 100% in recent days.

“Just managing his legs a little bit,” manager Rick Renteria said. “You guys have seen him kind of grinding it out a little bit. Maybe this will just calm it down, and we’ll be able to get him back in there tomorrow, maybe use him for a special at-bat or something today. That’s basically all it is.”

Moncada was batting .266/.352/.468 with five home runs. He was hitting .185 with two homers and nine RBI in his last eight games and .211 with three homers and 10 RBI in his last 15.

Renteria didn’t specify the nature of Moncada’s soreness, but Moncada, who started late during summer camp because of a positive coronavirus test, has dealt with hamstring issues throughout his career.

“With Yoan, absolutely, we’re constantly keeping our eye on how he’s moving around the bases and how he’s reacting,” Renteria said.

“These guys are very strong, and they can push themselves and maybe I can just help them kind of calm it down a little bit, let those legs cool off a little bit.”

Ryan Goins started at third.

Robert won’t back down

Robert said he was worried after hurting his hand diving for a ball Tuesday, and how it would feel the next day but said he didn’t feel any pain, although Renteria didn’t play him for two games.

In any event, Robert said he wasn’t considering the fact the Sox were ahead by five runs when he made the dive, coming up about a foot short.

“When you have a chance to make a play, you’re not thinking about how many runs you’re up or down,” he said. “You’re just trying to do your job; you’re trying to catch the ball. You’re also not thinking that, ‘OK, if I dive here, I’m going to get hurt.’ That’s not on your mind. For me, I’m just trying to do what I know I can do, I’m always trying to catch every fly ball in my range.”

Jimenez’s blasting memory

At first, Eloy Jimenez called the Sox-Cubs series “like any other series.’’ By the time he was done with his pregame Zoom interview, it was apparent that it’s more than that.

Traded by the Cubs to the Sox in 2017 in the Jose Quintana deal, Jimenez now counts his home run against the Cubs at Wrigley Field last season as one of the most cherished of his young career. He has the broken bat he hit it with, the ball, the batting gloves.

“I have pretty much everything that I used that game,” he said.

“It’s always fun playing against the Cubs. After they traded me, I like to play against them. But I just try to go out and play hard like always.”

Jimenez, who homered off Colin Rea in the seventh inning and singled against Jon Lester in the first inning, recalled connecting on the two-run tiebreaking homer against Pedro Strop on June 19 last year, a ninth-inning blast that gave the Sox a 3-1 victory before 41,192 fans.

“It’s special,” Jimenez said. “My first game at Wrigley Field. I was dreaming of that, hitting a home run here. Nothing against them, but after they traded me, I said, ‘Oh, yeah. I want to hit it against them.’ A really good memory for me for the rest of my life.”

Lopez to start Saturday

Reynaldo Lopez will start Saturday, Renteria said after the game. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who has made four starts and one relief appearance, might relieve Lopez, who has been out with a sore shoulder since his first start of the season and probably would be limited to two, three or four innings depending on his pitch count.

“Absolutely, that’s a possibility,” Renteria said.

Saturday would have been Gonzalez’s turn to start.

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