White Sox manager Rick Renteria is adamant that his team is just as fixated on winning games as developing young talent. But the reality is, any day Yoan Moncada drives in four runs is a good one for the Sox.
Moncada made his first big splash with the White Sox on Friday night against the Kansas City Royals. The 22-year-old infielder, who was called up from Class AAA Charlotte on Tuesday, hit an opposite-field, bases loaded triple and drove in four runs in his first two at-bats against Royals starter Ian Kennedy to give the Sox a 5-1 lead.
James Shields couldn’t hold the lead, allowing six runs in 4 1/3 innings and leaving after Alex Gordon’s two-run double tin the fifth inning tied the game 6-6. But all in all, that’s still a good night for the Sox, who are in full rebuild mode after trading Jose Quintana to the Cubs over the All-Star break, then trading Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees and calling up Moncada on Tuesday night.
The Sox are trying not to expect too much too soon from the heralded Moncada, but lowering expectations will be difficult. Moncada is rated the No. 1 prospect in baseball, and was acquired in the trade that sent fan favorite Chris Sale to Boston.
He didn’t get a hit in his White Sox debut against the Dodgers on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field — going 0-for-2 with a well-earned walk. But even that performance drew rave reviews from Sox slugger Jose Abreu.
“Perfect. He was perfect,” Abreu said through team interpreter Billy Russo. “It’s a process for him, too, and we all know he has to go step-by-step. All the people that are around him can help him and guide him through the process. But so far he has been great.”
He was much better in his second game Friday night against the Royals. Moncada fielded Whit Merrifield’s sharply, short-hopping liner leading off the game. He has fielded his position flawlessly in two games — a small sample, no doubt.
In his first at-bat in the second inning, Moncada drove in Avisail Garcia from third on a ground out to first base for his first RBI with the White Sox for a 1-0 lead. And he showed off both is power and his speed with a deep drive to left-center off starter Ian Kennedy — motoring to third without hesitation for a triple that gave the Sox a 5-1 lead. Abreu, Garcia and Matt Davidson scored on the hit.
Moncada grounded out to shortstop and grounded out to first base in his next two at-bats.
Renteria likes the boost a player like Moncada gives the Sox. But the Sox came into Friday night’s game with six consecutive losses and 10 in their previous 11 games. He doesn’t want his team to accept losing as part of the rebuild process.
“We don’t use terms like that. I don’t talk like that,” Renteria said. “When we lose a ballgame, we want to know why. We want to identify why we didn’t win. Did we not execute? What did we fail to do? If it was effort, focus, what was it?
“We’re still going through the process of making sure we continue to learn who we are; continue to learn the brand of baseball we want to play. I think these guys are getting it. Every single day we go out there and try to win a ballgame. It may not happen, but we go out and try to win.”
But as long Moncada and others who follow him make progress, the re-build will be fun to watch — whether the Sox win or lose. Even Renteria seems to understand that.
“It’s gonna be one of those things where we’re going to enjoy the journey we’re taking. Win, lose or draw we’re going to enjoy the journey. But we’re trying to win, every day.”
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