GLENDALE, Ariz. — Frank Thomas told Tony La Russa about Luis Robert.
“Six-tool player,” Thomas said.
La Russa is getting his eyes on Robert during the first week of spring training, and he immediately perked up when asked about him Wednesday.
“Indescribable,” La Russa said.
You might recall when teammate Eloy Jimenez touted Robert as the next Mike Trout last winter and again early in spring training. It was over the top — Trout, like Robert a center fielder, is generally regarded as the best player in the game.
But La Russa brought up Trout, whom he watched on a daily basis as an Angels adviser in 2020, while discussing Robert.
“I know Luis can run, can hit it a mile and can play great defense,” La Russa said. “I mean, those are Mike Trout-type talents. I don’t drop that on Luis right now, except that the talent is — I like Frank’s comment. He’s got six tools. I haven’t heard that about anybody.”
A Rookie of the Year runner-up and Gold Glove winner in 2020, Robert is at the core of the Sox’ young talent that La Russa is getting his eyes on for the first time.
When Thomas raved about him, “I thought, ‘Nah.’ Now I’m watching him and I say, ‘Yeah.’ I could see. He’s got another gear or level he goes to,” La Russa said.
Robert hit nine homers with a 1.015 OPS in August, then got mired in an epic September slump, hitting .136/.237/.173 with one homer and .409 OPS. He did get five hits in his last three games and crushed a 487-foot homer against the Athletics’ Mike Fiers in Game 1 of the American League wild-card series. He went 4-for-13 in the series.
“I would have been able to put up better stats if the season was longer, even though I think I put up decent numbers,” Robert said through translator Billy Russo on Wednesday.
“What I learned from the experience that last month, when I had the struggles with my offense, was you need to work hard to get over that moment.”
Robert finished with a .233/.302/.436 hitting line, 11 home runs, 31 RBI and nine stolen bases. Big, strong, fast and aggressive, what he does over a full season with a year in the majors under his belt will be one of the more intriguing things to watch about the Sox this season.
This and that
Yoan Moncada took part in infield drills but is not throwing due to what the Sox are calling normal spring training soreness.
— Carlos Rodon and Reynaldo Lopez, both making alterations to their deliveries under the watch of first-year pitching coach Ethan Katz, looked good throwing live batting practice. “Lopez, I thought, was outstanding,” La Russa said.
La Russa wasn’t the only one to watch Lopez and Rodon. Almost the entire group of pitchers have been watching live BPs from behind the batting cage.
— La Russa is already mapping out the first eight lineups for exhibitions games, which begin Sunday against the Brewers, although he revealed little except to identify Tim Anderson as “our leadoff man.”
— Hitting coach Todd Steverson, replaced by Frank Menechino last season, returned as a special assistant to vice president Ken Williams with an emphasis on scouting.