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'Yo Yo' focuses on improvement, growth

White Sox second baseman maintains confidence, even amid struggles
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Sometimes, as White Sox manager Rick Renteria said, you can just tell during batting practice that someone is due for a big game.

As Renteria delivered batting practice pitches to prized prospect Yoan Moncada Tuesday, he had a feeling.

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CHICAGO -- Sometimes, as White Sox manager Rick Renteria said, you can just tell during batting practice that someone is due for a big game.

As Renteria delivered batting practice pitches to prized prospect Yoan Moncada Tuesday, he had a feeling.

View Full Game Coverage

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't know he was going to hit the ball hard because of the way he was going about what he was doing," Renteria said before Wednesday's game. "These guys don't like striking out or chasing pitches. Yesterday his purpose in his BP was, 'I'm going to square up every pitch that comes across this plate even though it's 40 or 50 feet.' He had a desire of wanting to make sure he would hit the ball well and he took that straight into the ballgame."

Moncada delivered on that feeling, doubling in each of his first two at-bats Tuesday -- the first time in his career he'd produced multiple extra-base hits in a game -- and scoring Chicago's lone run on a wild pitch. He capitalized again in Wednesday's 4-3 win, hitting another double -- this time batting right-handed, where he had been 4-for-35 -- to tie the game in the eighth.

"I've been working on my right side and trying to be more consistent," Moncada said. "It's not that I'm not consistent, but that I'm not consistent enough as I am left-handed. I've been putting more work on my right-handed swing."

It was a welcome sight for Moncada, who has hit .192 with three homers and a .692 OPS through his first month with the big league club, while battling a right knee contusion and shin splints. Before Tuesday's two-hit performance, the second baseman was in the midst of a 2-for-27 skid. Moncada said he's not quite adjusting his approach, but instead looking to make contact with pitches that he's struggled with in his short time in the big leagues -- offspeed pitches in the strike zone. Both of Moncada's hits Tuesday came on fastballs, but the learning curve showed on Wednesday as he took Taylor Rogers' curveball down the line to tie the game.

"What we're trying to get for him, when you're swinging at strikes, especially offspeed strikes in the zone, he's able to put a good barrel on the baseball instead of the swing-and-miss." Renteria said.

"They've got to test you," hitting coach Todd Steverson said. "They've already watched your Minor League video. Everything is public now, with all the video and games being broadcast on MiLBTV and things like that. You've been scouted. They're going to see how far of rope you'll put yourself out there with. It's up to you to really to create your own scouting report for yourself."

Moncada -- who is MLB Pipeline.com's top prospect and was the centerpiece of last offseason's Chris Sale trade -- spent about a month in the Majors last season with Boston, but wasn't an everyday player and went 4-for-19 in eight games. Now he's been given the chance to be in the lineup each game, and to grow from the subsequent successes or failures.

Even with some of Moncada's struggles -- such as a 37 percent strikeout rate despite his .330 on-base percentage -- the confidence remains.

"Every person has a particular time where you start to get tired of looking a particular way," Renteria said. "Everybody inches toward their desire to want to improve. Sometimes you have to hit a little wall before you can push through that."

"I know that good results are going to come," Moncada said through interpreter Billy Russo. "It's just a part of the process. Sometimes you're tested to see how tough you are, and then you have to keep doing what you're supposed to do.

"It's a learning process, and I'm taking these last weeks of the season like a learning process. I hope the good results are going to be there by the end of the season, but my goal is just to keep improving and keep growing as a player."

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago White Sox, Yoan Moncada