Engel hopes tweaks to swing increase offense

Gold Glove-caliber outfielder aims to build on improved 2nd half

February 12th, 2019
Chicago White Sox's Adam Engel swings for an RBI single off Oakland Athletics pitcher Andrew Triggs during the second inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 18, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)Ben Margot/AP

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There was a noticeable difference in as he took swings in the batting cages at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday, one day before White Sox pitchers and catchers reported to officially start Spring Training.

Engel was operating out of a crouch, with his bat lying flat on his shoulders as he sprayed line drives around the cage. It's a change the center fielder focused upon during the offseason.

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"I'm just trying to tap into my lower half a little bit more," Engel said. "I feel like I made some improvements last year with the way my upper body was moving, and I felt like my path and my direction they weren't far off.

White Sox believe they are title contenders

"They were by no means where I wanted them to be, but they weren't as far off as maybe the numbers showed. The biggest thing where I need to adjust is lower half focus, so I attacked that."

There's little question concerning Engel's defensive prowess, as the 27-year-old was an American League Gold Glove Award finalist among center fielders along with and in '18. Engel's offense improved in the season's second half with a .260 average, although he still produced just a .668 OPS over 189 plate appearances.

But Engel believes there's plenty of room for growth with the bat.

"This year, the focus from a mechanical standpoint is lower half and making sure I'm using it the way I need to use it in order to tap into my ability," Engel said. "More so than anything it's learning how to be a hitter and trying to get out of my own head.

"When you are making mechanical adjustments that I think need to be made at times, you can get in your own head, and that handicaps you at the plate. Just try to be convicted in what I do from a mechanical side and just get into the mental part of the chess match between you and the pitcher."

September key month for Jones

' honor of being the longest tenured player as part of the White Sox was extended when the team picked up its $4.65 million option on the reliever for 2019 at the end of October. But it was Jones' six games of work last September putting him in play for continued high-leverage work at the back of the bullpen.

The hard-throwing right-hander was shut down from June 13 to Sept. 11 due to forearm discomfort. But he battled his way back for five scoreless outings of those six in September, increasing the club's confidence in the veteran.

"It proved I was healthy and could still be effective, and still be old Nate when I'm out there," said Jones, who came to Arizona with his family on Jan. 2 to get ready for a healthy 2019. "There were struggles there during the rehab process that actually pinpointed where it was coming from and stemming from the feelings I was having.

"This is no longer just a team or an organization. I know everybody from top to bottom. It's like a family. I was fortunate and blessed again to be able to keep playing baseball here and keep representing the White Sox."

Best shape of their lives

Right-hander dropped 15 pounds in preparation for the 2019 season. Outfielder also changed up his "diet big time."

"Just trying to eliminate the terrible foods I've been eating," Delmonico said. "I allow myself one cheat day a week, which is Saturday, and I'll crush."