White Sox’ Oscar Colas acknowledges that he needs to improve

The outfielder is chasing pitches out of the zone and swinging and missing at even higher rates since being recalled.

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Oscar Colas

White Sox’s Oscar Colas watches his two-run home run off New York Yankees relief pitcher Luis Severino on Aug. 9.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Oscar Colas says his daily baseball routine begins when he wakes up, reaches for his tablet and calls up videos of his at-bats from the previous night.

“Trying to identify what I did good, what I missed,” Colas said.

By the time he has arrived at the park to meet up with hitting coach Jose Castro in the batting cage, Colas has brought notes about his swing decisions and how the upcoming starting pitcher will attack him. Colas says their sessions have helped him improve and learn.

Asked to assess how his season has gone, Colas issued himself a 50 out of 100. There are a couple of ways to read that figure. One would be as a failing grade.

Tapped by general manager Rick Hahn as the potential solution in right field as far back as late November, Colas won a roster spot out of spring training but was demoted to Triple-A after a difficult first month. Recalled two solid months in Charlotte later, Colas’ offensive results have yet to meaningfully improve. According to FanGraphs, he is chasing pitches out of the zone and swinging and missing at even higher rates since being recalled.

His season batting line of .215/.259/.291 with three home runs would rank Colas among the worst offensive regulars in baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Colas has a strong throwing arm, possesses enough range to play center field in a pinch and is rated as an above-average defender by Statcast. But his four errors are representative of lapses of focus that manager Pedro Grifol has cited in pre- and postgame comments at times.

“We’re throwing a lot at him, and he’s embracing it, and he’s working on it,” Grifol said. “You’ll see spurts of plate discipline and good fundamental baseball, and you’ll see spurts of chasing and not-that-good fundamental baseball. That’s just part of the development process that we’re going through.”

“Unfortunately, the results weren’t there during my first stint with the team,” Colas said. “Now I think the results are a little bit better in the [plate-discipline] aspect. But it’s a work in progress. I’m improving. I’m trying to improve.”

Another way to read 50 out of 100 is that Colas is halfway to where he needs to be, with this difficult experience moving him closer even as results lag behind. The White Sox have had problems and shortfalls way beyond and more significant than Colas, and providing consistent opportunities for the 24-year-old to develop into a viable option will be as worthwhile a measure as any during the last six weeks of this lost season.

“My goal is to find the best way that I can feel comfortable, that I can feel like I’m doing my job, like I’m showing all the stuff I can do on the field,” Colas said. “We have goals. Like for example, if I have the goal to hit 20 homers before the season started, now you have to adjust that and see how close I can get.”

The small progress of an eight-game on-base streak (with two homers mixed in) is a glimmer of hope, but a more common compliment issued by the coaching staff is Colas’ interest in critiques, which are daily and often public material.

Asked if Colas erred in missing a cutoff man in an ill-fated attempt to throw out Brewers first baseman Carlos Santana at third on Friday, Grifol explained that he had erred twice: when he failed to anticipate the attempt and when he overreacted. These constructive critiques figure to remain a soundtrack for the rest of the season.

“I listen,” Colas said of how he deals with all the feedback. “I just try to listen and put into play all the stuff people are trying to teach me.”

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