Yoan Moncada is shaking off effects of illness and feeling stronger heading into 2021
“It was very, very difficult for me to keep playing because I wasn’t feeling like myself,” Yoan Moncada said.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Let’s cut to the news inquiring minds really want: Yoan Moncada’s new single will in fact be used by the White Sox third baseman as his walk-up song at Guaranteed Rate Field in 2021.
“About my single, yes, I am planning to use that song as my walk-up song and just play it everywhere,” Moncada proudly said Tuesday through translator Billy Russo, his eyes opening wider and a smile beaming from his face after answering more mundane baseball questions.
Better yet, Moncada will more than likely feel better walking to the plate with more energy than he strolled up for his 231 plate appearances in 2020. Last season he batted a subpar .225/.320/.385 with six homers after batting .315/.367/.548 with 25 homers and 34 doubles in 2019. Moncada tested positive for the coronavirus during the intake process ahead of summer camp, and the effects of it beat him up, admittedly, and it was hard to fault him for his production.
Exit velocities on balls off his bat were down, feeling shortness of breath was a real thing, and pictures and TV shots of Moncada sitting in the dugout, breathing heavily after scoring from first or second base, told the story.
“It was very, very difficult for me to keep playing because I wasn’t feeling like myself,” Moncada said. “I knew that I wasn’t 100 percent, but I had to be there, I needed to be playing in order to help the team in the capacity that I had at the moment. It was definitely a struggle.”
All of the tests run on Moncada after the season, general manager Rick Hahn said, from EKGs to vitamin levels, to blood scans and CT scans were normal. And so far at camp, following an offseason of rest, Moncada says he feels much better and is confident he can handle the rigors of a full season. He played in 52 of last season’s 60 games.
“In all sincerity, I feel very good right now,” Moncada said. “I feel strong, I feel good. I am prepared to handle 162-plus games. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for me to handle the season.”
“Compared to the problems he had last year with health and so forth,” manager Tony La Russa said, “I can tell he’s healthy and that’s a heck of a place to start. His swing looks very productive from both sides.”
Aside from dealing with early spring arm soreness that has restricted his throwing, Moncada looks like himself again.
“You’ve got to watch that closely, he’s a key guy,” La Russa said.
“We’ll watch him closely. This is February and we’re being careful with his arm so he has time to get it ready. Otherwise, he looks like he’s ready to go.”
Also worth watching, depending on one’s tastes, is a newly released music video for Moncada’s debut single, “Desastre Personal.”
The song is a collaboration between Moncada and artists El Chacal and Lenier. In the video, Moncada sings in front of a swimming pool, dances with women while decked out in a colorful outfit and a necklace referencing his uniform jersey number 10 with the White Sox.
Moncada had published a song on Instagram singing one of Lenier’s songs, and Lenier reached out to him, starting the idea for the music video.
If the video is any indication, Moncada is getting some zip in is step again. Looking at his zesty numbers of 2019, and knowing what he can add to a power-packed lineup that thrived in 2020 even without him at his best, is a source of energy in and of itself.
“Definitely. It is a motivation,” Moncada said. “Now I have the chance to prove that I am the kind of player that I was in 2019, that that is the kind of player I am. And I think I can do better. You always learn from those bad moments. Those bad moments put you in a better position going forward. I’m going to use all that this year and going forward in my future.
“Sometimes [last season] I was just out of energy. I didn’t have the energy to do anything. It was difficult, and both areas were a struggle for me.
“My main goal right now is just to stay healthy, be able to play every day and help this team every day. I know that if I do that, the [numbers will] be there. I’m just trying to build up and trying to stay healthy.”