Notes: Moncada, Renteria, Cease, González

February 14th, 2020

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- will hit anywhere manager Rick Renteria wants him in the 2020 White Sox lineup. But if Moncada has a choice, the switch-hitter will be back at the two-spot where he thrived in 2019.

“That’s where I feel more comfortable,” said Moncada through interpreter Billy Russo after Friday’s Spring Training workout at Camelback Ranch. “I’m here to help the team. I’m here to make the team better and whatever position they give me I’m going to be good with it.”

Moncada, 24, has moved throughout the lineup during his two seasons with the White Sox, serving primarily as the lead-off man in 2018. He comes off a breakout 2019 campaign featuring a .315/.367/.548 slash line to go with 25 home runs, 34 doubles and 79 RBIs.

But it was a changed approach, as much as a change in his lineup positioning, making the most difference in ’19. Moncada attacked early in his at-bats against pitches in the zone, watching his walks drop from 67 to 40 but also seeing his strikeouts dip from 217 to 154 and his overall productiveness rise significantly at the plate.

“I’m going to keep the same approach I had last year,” Moncada said. “I’m going to try to strike every pitch that’s in the strike zone. That’s what I did last year. I got very good results. I’m not planning to change that. If I see a good pitch to hit, I’m going to swing it.”

“He’s a young man who has a tremendously high ceiling,” Renteria said. “He’ll be able to pop a ball out of the ballpark. He’s going to hit for a decent average over time, he’s going to walk. There’s nothing that he can’t do.”

Renteria won’t commit to a set lineup three days into Spring Training. But he admitted there is a consideration beyond the numbers as to where a player feels comfortable.

“If we can get to the point where they feel good about different slots, we take advantage of it,” Renteria said. “But yeah, do I take it into account? Absolutely.”

Cease makes an important change to his mechanics
The biggest point of offseason focus for White Sox starting pitcher was not getting too rotational on his front side during delivery. It actually was work for the 24-year-old right-hander beginning at the end of last season.

“Reynaldo [López] actually brought it to my attention, and then I talked to Coop [pitching coach Don Cooper] and Has [assistant pitching coach Curt Hasler],” Cease said. “And we all kind of agreed I was getting a little too rotational.

“So, it’s something that I started working on toward the end of last season. You take a couple months off, and it was basically my main focus.”

Getting over rotational on his front side is what caused cutting issues with Cease’s fastball in his opinion. But he hasn’t seen such an issue in his throwing since making the change.

Third to first
played catch again early Friday at Camelback Ranch. The veteran southpaw was slowed down by shoulder discomfort two or three weeks ago and is on a slower pace than the other starters.

“As you guys know, we expect them all to be ready when the bell rings,” Renteria said. “he's feeling good. And we'll just progress. We're in no hurry at this point, you know? So, we'll take our time.”

Cleveland ace Mike Clevinger is out of action after suffering a partial tear in his left meniscus at the team’s Spring Training facility on Wednesday. Clevinger was scheduled to undergo surgery Friday, delivering an early strike against a team seemingly sitting ahead of the White Sox in the American League Central.

But Renteria believes it’s too early to start studying how the White Sox stack up against the other teams in the division.

““Honestly, you should have an idea, a feel. Those are the guys we are going to be facing,” Renteria said. “But I’m more concerned about what we do, what our game is going to be about. How we’re going to proceed and manage the players that we have in terms of the talent and skill sets that they bring to the table.”

They said it
“Just being efficient, not wasting pitches. If you’re having 40-pitch innings, it’s hard to go more than five.” -- Cease, on working deeper into games this season. He worked beyond six innings in two of his 14 starts last season.