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Robert finding comfort zone at first spring camp

Toolsy Cuban outfielder thankful to be surrounded by natives of his homeland
Special to MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago's No.3 overall prospect Luis Robert is adjusting well to his first Major League camp, having made the transition from playing in Cuba with the help of a stint in the Dominican Summer League in 2017.

"It was important for me to play there," Robert said through an interpreter. "It was good because I was on a team with all Latinos, and we can communicate with each other directly. I took a lot of advantage of that experience."

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago's No.3 overall prospect Luis Robert is adjusting well to his first Major League camp, having made the transition from playing in Cuba with the help of a stint in the Dominican Summer League in 2017.

"It was important for me to play there," Robert said through an interpreter. "It was good because I was on a team with all Latinos, and we can communicate with each other directly. I took a lot of advantage of that experience."

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In addition to the chance to acclimate with other Latino players, Robert mentioned fellow Cuban Jose Abreu as an important inspiration for him, relishing the opportunity to wear the same uniform as the national hero.

"He was a superstar in Cuba," Robert said of Abreu. "He was an example for us, for young kids there. I also think he's been an example for us here with the things that he has done. I like him. We have a great relationship, and I'm hoping to be like him."

The highly regarded 20-year-old has the defensive skills to play in center, and his bat plays anywhere. The White Sox were so intrigued they offered him a $26 million signing bonus, the highest ever for an international signee in franchise history. Now, MLB Pipeline's No. 28 overall prospect is likely headed to Class A Advancecd Winston-Salem for his first taste of stateside ball.

Tweet from @whitesox: Luis Robert in the cage at #SoxSpringTraining 🔥 pic.twitter.com/wPknz82Xyj

"I hope to improve the accuracy of my arm, and to get more strength in my arm," Robert said of his focus during Spring Training, noting that the club has been relatively hands-off regarding his approach at the plate. "The White Sox haven't done anything about my swing. We are just doing some adjustments about my legs, but nothing about my swing."

Renteria focused on preparation
The full squad finished just its second day of workouts, but with only two more workouts before Cactus League play gets underway, the anticipation is mounting for the return of actual games.

"The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," manager Rick Renteria said. "I think they all enjoy what they're doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately, like everything that we do in life, I guess it's a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis."

Renteria isn't getting ahead of himself, however. He values the time in camp before the routine of games takes over, and he is gleaning important information about his players in the early days of Spring Training.

"I focus more on how they prepare," Renteria said. "It's what they're doing to get themselves ready to play the game. Those are the things that I key on, because there might be some deficiencies in that regard, not so much the physical. It's more the psyche of it. What are the things they're using to put themselves in the right frame of mind to be able to go out and compete? The Major Leagues, it's a very difficult place to play, and you've got to be the best you possibly can on a daily basis."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Danish in the plans
Renteria broke some news Tuesday, announcing his starting pitcher for the Cactus League opener. But so far for Tyler Danish, no news yet on where he fits in the spring rotation. The 23-year-old non-roster invitee has four Major League games under his belt, including a start in his only appearance of 2017, when he pitched five shutout innings of three-hit ball.

"I believe right now we have Danish slated," Renteria said Monday. "I'm giving you a scoop. We can validate it in the next day or so."

Security in center
Though the starting job in center is one of the key competitions to play itself out in the Cactus League, Adam Engel remains a favorite, having played 96 of his 97 games in center during a callup in May. A June callup saw him stick with the club for the duration of the season. He hit just .166 (50-for-301), but his elite glove and arm give the White Sox reason to be patient with his performance at the plate.

"Adam Engel's a tremendously gifted center fielder for us," Renteria said. "We have a few guys here in camp that are also going to be seen in center field. We also look for him to show us, as he's worked through the winter, that he's continued to improve on his offensive capabilities. We're confident that he's going to be able to do that."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.

Chicago White Sox, Luis Robert