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Rick Renteria acknowledges ‘unique situation’ with Zack Collins’ playing time

Before Friday, Collins had played in only five games with 10 at-bats. No, that’s likely not how the Sox envisioned developing the 2016 first-round pick, but not much in 2020 is how anybody envisioned.

Rick Renteria walks back to the dugout during a game last month in Cleveland.
AP Photos

In an ideal world, Zack Collins would be with Class AAA Charlotte getting playing time every day.

Of course, nothing is ideal in 2020.

With no minor-league season, Collins is up with the White Sox, who are well-stocked at catcher, first base and designated hitter. That has made getting consistent at-bats difficult for Collins, who was the DH for a second consecutive night in the series opener Friday against the Indians.

Before Friday, Collins had played in only five games with 10 at-bats. That’s likely not how the Sox envisioned developing the 2016 first-round pick.

“The truth is, there’s probably a likelihood if we had been in a normal situation, he’d be playing down in Triple-A, continuing to get more at-bats, continuing to stay active,” manager Rick Renteria said. “We still believe there’s value in him gaining information here and getting some of the at-bats he’s getting. It’s just one of those moments in time right now where we’re in a unique situation. Nobody expected to find ourselves in it, but we’re going to try to do everything we can to keep him moving along.

“It’s very difficult for him. Any player that feels he should be having opportunities and getting them is always going to be anxious to want to show everybody what they’re capable of doing. I totally, totally understand that.”

Collins has gotten more at-bats of late, but that’s partly because of the absence of Edwin Encarnacion (left shoulder). When Encarnacion returns, that will mean less time for Collins, barring other injuries. And Encarnacion took dry swings Friday, with Renteria hoping he could do normal work Saturday.

Because of the Sox’ roster construction, the unique nature of the season and the lack of minor-league baseball, there isn’t an ideal way to accommodate everybody. Renteria acknowledged that.

“I wish I had a perfect solution to the whole situation, but I don’t,” Renteria said. “It’s fluid, it’s organic and we’re going to try to do the best we can for everybody.”

Health report

Yasmani Grandal didn’t start because of irritation in his left foot. Renteria said the Sox had wanted to give him a day off anyway, though he was available for an at-bat. Nomar Mazara (left foot) also didn’t start after being hit with a pitch and exiting Thursday. He was available off the bench, as well.

Both are expected back Saturday.

As for Tim Anderson (strained right groin), Renteria said he will work out with the Sox on Sunday and is expected to return next week against the Tigers.

The other side

Aaron Civale, the Indians’ starter on Friday, entered his matchup against Dylan Cease with a 3.75 ERA. That’s the highest of Cleveland’s three scheduled starters, with Zach Plesac entering 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA on Saturday and Shane Bieber coming into Sunday’s finale 3-0 with an ERA of 0.83.

Eloy Jimenez sounded like the Sox were up for the battle.

“They have really good pitchers; it’s going to be a challenge,” Jimenez said. “But we have a really good lineup, so we are going to compete. They have to compete, too, with us. So we’re good.”

Bright lights

The Indians-Sox series finale has been moved to ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” which had an open spot in the schedule after the Cubs-Cardinals series was postponed.

It will be the Sox’ first appearance on “Sunday Night Baseball” since May 12, 2013, against the Angels.