White Sox reinstate Yoan Moncada from IL, and they need his bat to perk up

Moncada, who has played in 29 games, returns from a hamstring strain.

SHARE White Sox reinstate Yoan Moncada from IL, and they need his bat to perk up
The White Sox activated Yoan Moncada from the injured list.

The White Sox activated Yoan Moncada from the injured list.

Paul Sancya/AP

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The White Sox activated Yoan Moncada from the injured list on Tuesday.

Now comes the important thing about that: Will Moncada make it meaningful?

The 27-year-old switch-hitting third baseman in the third year of a five-year, $70 million contract paying $13 million this season, has played in only 29 games in 2022 because of oblique, quad and hamstring injuries. When healthy, he has produced a .179/.230/.292 hitting line with a .523 OPS and three home runs.

Ooof.

Moncada’s return is off to a good start, after going 2-for-5 with an RBI double and an RBI groundout in Tuesday’s 11-4 victory against the Angels. The Sox had some fun in the clubhouse, giving player of the game awards to Josh Harrison and Johnny Cueto.

“Moncada got Comeback Player,” manager Tony La Russa said.

He is one of the missing pieces of a puzzling, struggling Sox offense factoring large in the team’s 35-38 record.

The Sox ranked 24th in runs and slugging and were 26th in homers through Monday but erupted for 17 hits and home runs by Luis Robert and Josh Harrison. They had just one homer over the previous seven games and five in their last 11. As the Sox wait for Eloy Jimenez and Yasmani Grandal to return from injuries, they desperately need to get Moncada going. They need him to catch up to the fastball, especially on the outer half of the plate, to cut down his chase rate and be more selective — a Moncada strength when he was at his best. 

“Be on the fastball and the fastball away — you watch a lot of his at-bats and that’s how they attack him,” assistant hitting coach Howie Clark told the Sun-Times on Tuesday. “He took a lot of walks last year, which was huge. Even when he wasn’t getting his hits he was getting on base.”

After missing so much time, “it’s about getting consistent at-bats and finding that groove.”

Which is a challenge for Moncada, who landed on the 10-day injured list June 20 (retroactive to June 18) with a strained right hamstring. He didn’t play his first game until May 9 because of an oblique strain, then dealt with a sore quad before injuring the hamstring. You need to play to find a rhythm.

When Moncada recorded a career-high five hits, including a home run, and drove in five runs on June 15 at Detroit, it looked like he had found it. But he got hurt in his next game.

“For some reason things haven’t gone my way,” Moncada said through translator Billy Russo on Tuesday. “It’s been really weird. All we can do is work hard to get over it.”

Moncada’s 2019 season, when he batted .315/.367/.548 with a .915 OPS and 25 home runs, gave ownership the confidence to award him with an extension before he was eligible for free agency. It also set a standard for what could be expected of him, but Moncada is hitting .243/.345/.390 since then.

It’s not for lack of talent. He’s one who makes hitting easier than it is when he is on.

“Oh my goodness, it’s all there,” Clark said. “He’s got it all. He takes those at-bats that are super impressive where he’s recognizing and laying off pitches. Even if they are strikes, those pitches on the corner there is nothing you can do with, you don’t want to swing unless you have to. And he’s got that.

“But he also looks up and sees he’s hitting one-something and when you want to force a result, what happens? You chase. It just takes some good at-bats.”

“For whatever reason, the results haven’t been there,” Moncada said. “I’m not putting my head down. I’ll keep working hard to find a consistent rhythm and do what I’m capable of doing.”

The Latest
Although Sneed is told Cardinal Cupich has yet to officially tender his mandatory resignation, do not place a bet on the pope accepting it. Cupich is already one the pope’s key leadership people.
Manager Craig Counsell said he’ll wait at least another turn in the rotation to name his Opening Day starter.
Pensions costs as a percentage of the budget are declining, former state rep. Mark Batinick, a Republican, notes. But he also cautions that much of the money for new spending comes from fixing the pension problem, not ‘budget magic.’
With the No. 9 overall pick, the Bears could be in reach of a top wide receiver — a significant need.
It appears the defense does not plan on calling many, if any witnesses to the stand. In a court filing ahead of the trial, attorneys said the accused gunman, Emonte Morgan, may or may not testify in his own defense.