Tony La Russa says Yoan Moncada is ‘the whole package’ as a hitter

Moncada extended his on-base streak to 28 games Sunday. During that stretch, he’s hitting .327 with two home runs and eight doubles.

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Yoan Moncada is batting .272 from the left side and .252 from the right this season.

Yoan Moncada is batting .272 from the left side and .252 from the right this season.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With his fourth-inning walk, the White Sox’ Yoan Moncada extended his on-base streak to 28 games. Heading into the game, he was tied with the Royals’ Nicky Lopez for the longest active streak in baseball. During this stretch, Moncada is hitting .327 with two home runs and eight doubles.

Moncada has been a steady presence in manager Tony La Russa’s lineups all season. He hit second Sunday, but La Russa feels like he can slot Moncada into just about any spot in the order.

“I think he’s the whole package as a hitter, and if you want to hit him third, hit second, fourth, fifth, he can hit anywhere,” La Russa said.

Though Moncada’s power numbers are down, he is showing signs of maturation as a hitter. His walks are up and strikeouts are down, and, notably, Moncada has continued to be consistent from both sides of the plate.

“He’s an equally dangerous or talented hitter from both sides, which is a good thing for a switch hitter,” La Russa said. “You can’t turn him around and get an advantage.”

Moncada is batting .272 from the left side and .252 from the right. He has always hit well from either side, and that has helped Moncada spray the ball to all fields.

“He has the things you look for,” La Russa said. “He’s got a good eye, and if you watch his hit chart, he hits the ball all over the field, and he hits all the pitches.”

Gotta keep an edge

The White Sox have been at the top of the American League Central since May 7, and as they get closer to clinching their playoff spot, the challenge for La Russa’s team has been consistency.

For example, in the Friday opener of this weekend’s series against the Rangers, the offense put up eight runs, but then managed only one with three hits Saturday.

“I think the thing that we’re fighting is to not lose the urgency of the competition,” La Russa said. “Because that’s how you keep your edge in the last couple of weeks of the season.”

One of La Russa’s favorite mantras for the kind of situation the Sox are in is to play each game like it’s the last game, or like it’s the seventh game of the World Series.

The Sox have been in the enviable spot of leading their division for almost the entire season, and that has allowed them to rest players as needed and think ahead to rearranging the rotation for the best postseason alignment.

But La Russa still is mindful that those advantages have their downsides — like potential complacency — as well.

“It’s one of the luxuries of being in this position, but we don’t want to turn it into a liability,” La Russa said.

Day off for Jimenez, Robert

Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert were out of the lineup but not because of injury. La Russa said he sat Robert to “get him off his feet” and Jimenez because La Russa thought he needed a mental rest. Jimenez is battling through a mini-slump.

“Sometimes you just need a break,” La Russa said. “That’s what today is, it’s a break. The best thing is [Jimenez is] healthy, he’s very talented. If he’s our problem, we’ve got no problems.”

Sox at Tigers

Monday: Carlos Rodon (12-5, 2.38 ERA) vs. Matt Manning (4-6, 5.75), 5:40 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM.

Tuesday: Dallas Keuchel (8-9, 5.23) vs. Tyler Alexander (2-3, 4.13), 5:40 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM.

Wednesday: Reynaldo Lopez (3-3, 3.00) vs. Casey Mize (7-8, 3.64), 12:10 p.m., 5:40 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM.

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