Zack Collins settling in as valuable No. 2 catcher for White Sox

Collins has improved defensively, and the Sox like the way he calls a game.

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Carlos Rodon of the White Sox and Zack Collins (right) talk after the sixth inning against the Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 29, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)


Ask Zack Collins what element of his defense he’s most pleased with, and he’ll give you an all-encompassing answer.

‘‘Well, everything,’’ said Collins, who has started 15 games and appeared in four others as the White Sox’ backup catcher.

It’s worth noting that manager Tony La Russa and catching instructor Jerry Narron have talked up Collins’ value because the rap on Collins since the Sox drafted him in the first round in 2016 was that his defense lagged behind his offense.

‘‘I’m blocking pretty much everything that’s thrown in the dirt, I’ve thrown out a couple of runners [three of 17 base-stealers] and my game-calling has been good,’’ Collins said. ‘‘When I look at my defense, No. 1 is catcher’s ERA and No. 2 is wins and losses. If we’re winning, that’s all that matters.’’

Sox pitchers have a 2.77 ERA when Collins is behind the plate. And the Sox are 9-6 in games he has started.

Collins caught left-hander Carlos Rodon’s no-hitter April 14 against the Indians, giving him what Narron called ‘‘instant cred,’’ and Rodon’s six-inning gem in which he struck out 13, walked none and allowed no runs in a 2-1 loss Friday to the Yankees. He also caught right-hander Lucas Giolito’s start Wednesday against the Twins, in which he allowed one run in eight innings.

Is there something to it?

The Sox’ coaching staff says it likes the way Collins calls a game. Pitchers, including Giolito and Rodon, have agreed.

‘‘It makes it a lot easier when you’ve got guys throwing 98 [mph] with a nasty slider, like Carlos was [Friday], throwing three pitches for strikes,’’ Collins said. ‘‘What else could you ask for?’’

Offensively, Collins is learning to find his way as a part-time player and pinch hitter. He’s batting .190/.309/.362 with two home runs and 11 RBI.

‘‘I’m learning how to deal with that, taking as many swings as I can every day, hitting live as much as I can,’’ Collins said. ‘‘I’ve been getting a decent amount of at-bats. Just trying to have good at-bats, not trying to hit homers. It’s something I have to get used to.

‘‘I know my role. I know that [Yasmani Grandal] is our guy. He’s struggling right now, but he’s walking a lot and getting on base. He’ll pick it up.’’

This and that

Shortstop Tim Anderson snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth inning. The hitless streak followed a 12-game hitting streak.

• Third baseman Yoan Moncada had his 10-game hitting streak snapped but walked to extend his on-base streak to 15 games.

• First baseman Jose Abreu had two of the Sox’ five hits, his 12th multihit game. He is batting .385 (15-for-39) with two homers and 11 RBI in his last 11 games.

• Sunday will mark the 18th time in the last 19 days the Sox will have occupied first place in the American League Central.

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