Moustakas' veteran presence a plus during battle for roster spot

Vaughn, Nicky Lopez seeking to make a difference in 2024

February 20th, 2024

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- ’ mindset as a non-roster invite in 2024 White Sox camp is not unlike the mindset he carried into Rockies camp last Spring Training.

“I've got to make the team,” Moustakas said. “I've got to perform, do everything I can to make the ballclub. I'm fully prepared to do that.

“I'm excited. It's another opportunity. It's a challenge and it's going to be a lot of fun."

Moustakas, 35, would provide a left-handed bat off the bench, which is a role held in 2023 by Gavin Sheets, who is on the White Sox 40-man roster and in camp. Moustakas played for White Sox manager Pedro Grifol in Kansas City, where he was a key part of the 2015 World Series title team and the 2014 World Series runner-up, and played with White Sox general manager Chris Getz with the Royals.

But as a veteran with 13 years of Major League experience, Moustakas understands nothing is given or guaranteed at this point in his career.

“At the end of the day, if you want to keep playing Major League baseball, you've got to go out and do this,” Moustakas said. “Another opportunity and another chance to play baseball at the highest level and I'm excited to have that chance."

"I've known a lot of the guys in here who are [in the] front office now and a bunch of the guys in the clubhouse. It's a pretty cool opportunity. Nice to be able to come in and know people in a new setting and feel comfortable when you're here."

Raul Ibanez, Josh Willingham and Kendrys Morales served as mentors for a young Moustakas. Now, it’s his turn to show the younger players how to do things the right way.

“I always go out there and play as hard as I can and try to do everything I can to win baseball games,” Moustakas said. “Just coming in here and being myself and having fun with the boys and maybe showing how to do things a little differently or helping younger guys out in reaching their potential.

“It's passing that knowledge on that we've had, that I've learned from 18 years of playing professional baseball. It’s showing these guys what they passed on to me."

Vaughn's breakout
First baseman paused for a moment when asked Monday what a breakout season in 2024 looks like in his mind.

“That’s hard to put into words,” Vaughn said. “Let’s talk at the end of the season.”

Fair enough. But Vaughn went through a great deal of offseason work to put himself in the best position to take his game to the next level.

“Bands, resistant shuffles, runs, footwork, you name it,” Vaughn said. “I definitely feel it. I just feel way better. Better shape. All the tests are a little bit better. It’s a good start to the season.”

The Lopez challenge
Second baseman fits in perfectly with the White Sox, according to Grifol. But with there being past history between them from time in Kansas City, Grifol plans on challenging Lopez “like no other.”

“I want to see him play baseball. That entails you’re playing to win every single day,” Grifol said. “Stay within yourself, stay within your role, get on base, turn that lineup around, make the plays and do every little thing possible to help us win that ballgame.

“He is more than capable of doing that. I’ve seen him do that.”

Third to first
Right-hander , who is on the road to recovery from Tommy John surgery, threw his first bullpen on Monday. He threw 15 pitches, all fastballs, and felt great after the session.

Pitching coach Ethan Katz was back with the team after being away for a family matter.

Look for Jesse Chavez and Joe Barlow to be among the relievers to throw in Friday’s Cactus League opener against the Cubs.

“You probably won’t see a starter for a little bit of time,” Grifol said. “We’ve got some time.”