Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

White Sox trying Moncada in leadoff spot

Team seeing where high-upside switch hitter is most comfortable
MLB.com @RichardJustice

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Second baseman Yoan Moncada batted leadoff for the White Sox in Friday afternoon's 7-6 loss to the Dodgers, and manager Rick Renteria said it's an idea worth considering for the regular season.

"We're exploring the possibility," he said. "He's a high on-base guy. He's a guy who maybe we could slot into that role."

View Full Game Coverage

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Second baseman Yoan Moncada batted leadoff for the White Sox in Friday afternoon's 7-6 loss to the Dodgers, and manager Rick Renteria said it's an idea worth considering for the regular season.

"We're exploring the possibility," he said. "He's a high on-base guy. He's a guy who maybe we could slot into that role."

View Full Game Coverage

Renteria spoke to the 22-year-old on Wednesday to let him know he'd be leading off on Friday. In the course of that conversation, Renteria asked: "Where have you felt most comfortable in your career?"

"He likes the leadoff role," Renteria said. "And he likes hitting second. It gives me another option. If I can find someone who's really comfortable in that situation, and if he can manage that situation, maybe we've found a guy we can use there to be effective in that role."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

White Sox leadoff hitters had the Majors' fourth-lowest on-base percentage in 2017 (.300), and they scored just 89 runs, tied for third-fewest. The switch-hitting Moncada, who has never gotten an at-bat out of the leadoff spot, had a .357 OBP against right-handed pitchers in 2017, and a .297 OBP against lefties.

The Sox used seven different leadoff hitters in 2017, with Leury Garcia and Tim Anderson getting 40 starts apiece. Considering how much youth the White Sox have in their lineup, it's difficult to make definitive projections about how things will play out, but the Sox believe they can improve on their 96 first-inning runs (13th overall) with more production at the top of the lineup.

Moncada showed what he can contribute in his first game at the top, drawing two walks, stealing a base and scoring two runs.

"If you can put yourself in the best situation early through the first round of at-bats and possibly score early, it gives you some type of an advantage," Renteria said. "We're going to use him a lot. We're going to find out. You can expect to see him there, and we'll see how it develops."

Moncada, 22, batted second in 34 of his 54 starts in 2017, but occasionally hit fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh as Renteria tried to find a comfort zone for the rookie.

Video: LAD@CWS: Moncada hustles home on Verdugo's error

Shields to pitch on back field

Veteran right-hander James Shields will make his third start of the spring on Saturday afternoon at Camelback Ranch. Well, sort of. He'll be pitching again in a camp game on a back field as the White Sox use the Cactus League games to take a look at some of their younger pitchers.

He tweaked his mechanics during the 2017 season to more of a sidearm delivery and is continuing to work on that in his mound work this spring.

"At the end of the day, it got me a little more movement, a few more ground balls," he said. "It was kind of off and on. It was too difficult. This Spring Training, I'm trying to refine things a bit and see what happens."

"I think he's found a comfort in it, a new release point," said Renteria. "It's alleviated a little more stress on his shoulder. He's getting a lot more action on his pitches. It's generated a lot more ground balls and kept the ball in the ballpark more over the course of that adjustment."

Shields, the probable Opening Day starter, is expected to make his official Cactus League debut on Thursday against the Royals.

Video: Shields talks about wanting the ball every five days

Injury updates

Outfielder Eloy Jimenez, the White Sox top prospect, is being treated for tendinitis in his left knee and being given a few days off for the medication to take effect. Renteria said he still hopes to see Jimenez in more games this spring.

"It's something he can play with, something he can work through," Renteria said. "Hopefully get him back out there and start working again. We'll let the medication take its due course and get it to calm down. It's not something that will limit him in playing. It's just discomfort. It's a painful experience, but you can work through it."

Video: Renteria provides insight on Jimenez's injury

Camp battles

Adam Engel homered and singled to raise his spring batting average to .333 in his quest to win the White Sox center field starting gig. Leury Garcia is also in the mix and is hitting .313 after getting two singles Friday as the team's shortstop.

Video: LAD@CWS: Engel lifts a solo shot to left field

• Shortstop Tim Anderson was scratched from Friday's lineup to tend to a personal matter.

• Plate umpire Tony Randazzo left Friday's game after being hit by a pitch thrown by Dodgers reliever Brock Stewart in the third inning. The White Sox announced that he had passed all orthopedic and medical evaluations.

Up next: Rookie right-hander Michael Kopech will make his second spring start Saturday against the Royals in Surprise, Ariz. Game time is 2:05 p.m. CT, and the game can be followed on Gameday. Carson Fulmer will start Sunday against the Padres, and Dylan Cease is expected to start Monday against the A's.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Chicago White Sox, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, James Shields