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Engel stays positive with new approach at plate

MLB.com @scottmerkin

ST. LOUIS -- The 2018 season for Adam Engel in some ways is about finding a fit for the future amid the White Sox rebuild.

Engel, 26, has proven to be a Gold Glove-caliber defensive player in center field. But in order to be part of the team moving into prime contending years, Engel has to raise a career .166 average and .506 OPS.

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ST. LOUIS -- The 2018 season for Adam Engel in some ways is about finding a fit for the future amid the White Sox rebuild.

Engel, 26, has proven to be a Gold Glove-caliber defensive player in center field. But in order to be part of the team moving into prime contending years, Engel has to raise a career .166 average and .506 OPS.

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"He's been very open minded in terms of adjustments made over the course of the last few months," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn of Engel, after acknowledging Engel's defensive prowess. "At this point, we are hoping he's able to start having a little better success here in the coming weeks and stick with his plan. Hopefully we keep him with that solid base and he remains focused on stringing together some good ABs."

An example of those good at-bats came for Engel in the second inning of Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Cardinals. Engel fell behind at 0-2 before working the count full and then singling to left as the culmination of an 11-pitch battle with Michael Wacha.

One at-bat doesn't erase an 11-for-66 start with two extra-base hits for Engel. But Engel's confidence hasn't wavered.

"Honestly I just try not to think too much about the numbers," Engel said. "I started to feel good at the plate the last series, square up some baseballs pretty well there. As a hitter, that's what you are trying to do, go up to the plate with a good approach.

"My moves have gotten a little bit smaller as I've gone. That was the game plan from the beginning. Exaggerate early to make sure I'm getting the feels I want to get and then slowly water them down to try to capitalize on consistency.

"Like I started in spring with a big leg kick, some big hand moves to get ready to hit," Engel said. "Now I'm trying to make the moves smaller and still get the same kind of feel a leg kick would bring. That's where I'm at now, trying to make the moves as small as I can to be as consistent as possible."

This White Sox rebuild is loaded with top outfield prospects, including Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford and Luis Alexander Basabe to name a few. So this present time serves as a chance for Engel to show where he belongs in that mix.

Then again, Engel doesn't worry about other players' abilities while trying to improve his game.

"Personally, I've never looked around me at my competition as a motivator for myself. I've always been a self-motivator," Engel said. "Rutherford is a great guy. I got to play with him in Spring Training a little bit on the back fields. He's a great guy, great player and I wish him nothing but the best.

"Robert is a real hard worker. I really like the way he goes about his business. Obviously very talented. I'm one of his biggest fans. I like to cheer people on, and it helps me stay positive. That's when I'm at my best, when I'm positive."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Adam Engel