Chicago pull: White Sox 3B Yoan Moncada heating up

In the Sox’ 3-2 loss to the Brewers on Saturday, Moncada had two hits for the third game in a row.

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Yoan Moncada rounds the bases on his home run in the sixth inning off Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff on Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/ Getty Images

At 47-71 after a 3-2 loss to the National League Central-leading Brewers, the White Sox are back to counting developmental victories.

And five years after any good Yoan Moncada games grabbed the headlines during a 100-loss 2018 season, signs of life for the Sox third baseman are carrying the day again.

“You’ve seen it the last few days: He’s able to pull a baseball,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “There was some loud contact coming out of his bat, which is nice to see.”

The game Saturday was Moncada’s third in a row with two hits, and his 430-foot bomb to center off Brewers starter and two-time All-Star Brandon Woodruff was his first home run in more than two months. Turning on a 95 mph fastball was the culmination of a spate of recent hard contact to the pull side in Moncada’s left-handed swing, and his first homer since missing six weeks for lower-back inflammation.

The correlation is not coincidental.

“I had a couple of months where I wasn’t able to put the ball in the air,” Moncada said. “The reality is that I’ve been fighting to get to that point, to get to the rhythm that I feel comfortable with. Because what happened in that time that I was dealing with the pain, I created a bad habit. Because I was trying to protect that area. I didn’t want to feel that pain when I was swinging. Now there are times where I feel like my mechanics are right.”

Moncada’s hitting line sits at .234/.283/.360, and he’s only days removed from an 0-for-16 slump, so believe him when he says the feeling of his swing mechanics being restored comes and goes.

“I’m fighting; it’s a battle every day,” Moncada said.

Five years ago, Moncada was a top prospect and the centerpiece of a full-scale rebuild that was supposed to launch the Sox into perennial contention. Now he’s owed $24.8 million for next season. His potential in-house replacement was traded for a pitching prospect, and he’s fighting the perception that injuries have put his best baseball behind him at 28.

So seeing Moncada thrive down the stretch feels like the most important thing happening in the dog days of August on the South Side.

Robert sidelined

Despite pinch-running Friday night, Luis Robert Jr. remained out of the lineup Saturday with a sprained right pinkie finger.

Grifol said his All-Star center fielder is available to run or serve as a defensive replacement, but taking at-bats will be the last thing he’s cleared for.

DJ on the IL

Sox radio analyst Darrin Jackson missed his second straight game after undergoing hip-replacement surgery Friday morning. Jackson audaciously hopes to return by Friday’s road trip to Colorado or, failing that, Aug. 21, when the Sox host the Mariners.

Play-by-play man Len Kasper called Friday’s game solo, but Connor McKnight is slated to partner with him for the rest of the weekend.

A lengthy appeal

While Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez began his suspension Saturday night, reduced from three games to two on appeal, Tim Anderson was in action again at shortstop. The Sox indicated they still have not received word on the result of Anderson’s appeal of his six-game ban for his dustup with Ramirez in Cleveland last weekend.

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