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Moncada is getting used to his 3B glove

Players visit Negro Leagues museum; Abreu and Alonso mix and match
@scottmerkin
March 30, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- Yoan Moncada's position switch to third base from second might have been somewhat of a surprise to those outside the organization. But it was not to Moncada himself. "They kind of mentioned that to me at the end of last season," said Moncada through interpreter Billy Russo.

KANSAS CITY -- Yoan Moncada's position switch to third base from second might have been somewhat of a surprise to those outside the organization. But it was not to Moncada himself.

"They kind of mentioned that to me at the end of last season," said Moncada through interpreter Billy Russo. "When I came to Arizona in November, [White Sox manager Rick Renteria] told me to keep working at third base and at second base.

"And I did it. Then when I got to Spring Training, they told me 'Hey, you are going to start playing third base.' I was prepared. I was working at that position and I had that in my mind too."

Moncada felt kind of out of place when he first began playing third after starting 203 games at second over the last two seasons, even though he had played third in Cuba and for five games in 2016 with the Red Sox. It didn't take Moncada long to get used to the position, though -- he made two solid plays in Thursday's opener, throwing out Adalberto Mondesi at the plate in the seventh and nailing Chris Owings in the fifth on a slow roller via a good charge.

"I've played it before," Moncada said. "Mostly it has been like getting reps, getting used to the stuff that I was used to when I was playing the position. Now I feel comfortable.

"It's not that difficult. At third base, you have to be more focused in the game, a little more aware of the things happening during the game. If the ball is hit to you, you have to react. It's just another position. I feel good."

Moncada had a big game in Saturday's 8-6 White Sox loss to the Royals, going 3-for-5 with his first home run of the season, a 2-run shot. In Thursday's opener, Moncada went 1-for-3 with a walk in his fourth plate appearance. In those first three at-bats, he saw six combined pitches, following a selectively aggressive approach.

"This year, I'm trying to be more aggressive on all the pitches. I want to keep my approach, but at the same time, I know that I can keep my approach being aggressive from the first pitch."

"He looks really, really comfortable," said Renteria of Moncada. "He's grown, he's maturing. His focus level is a little higher right now than it was last year -- not that he wasn't focusing last year. You're just getting more comfortable in your own skin."

White Sox visit Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

During Friday's off-day, a group from the White Sox organization visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. That group included pitchers Lucas Giolito and Dylan Covey and rookie outfielder Eloy Jimenez. It marked the first visit to the impressive locale for Covey and Jimenez, set up this time by first-base coach Daryl Boston.

"So, last year we went, a few of us, T.A. [Tim Anderson] had a little event there, a charity thing," Giolito said. "It was super awesome, so I wanted to go back and get the full tour again. It was great.

"If you go on a museum tour, I equate it to like being in history class. If you sit through a lecture in history, you're only going to get so much. You need to go back and study. That was what it was kind of like for me, going back and getting the whole thing again, learning about it."

Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, conducted the tour for the players, with Giolito describing Kendrick as a true historian who really knows his stuff.

"You can ask him any question and he has a detailed answer for you," Giolito said. "Very fascinating to me because I think the Negro Leagues doesn't get enough credit for what it did as a whole for the Civil Rights movement, not just in baseball and sports but across everything having to do with American culture in that aspect.

"I see myself pretty much going back every year when we come to Kansas City and just taking it in. They do an amazing job. It's a really cool place. Anyone that ever visits Kansas City, I'd definitely recommend it."

Who's on first

Jose Abreu started Saturday at first base for a second straight game, with Yonder Alonso once again at designated hitter. Renteria said Alonso could be at first Sunday and he would want to use him on back-to-back days to help them stay under control at the position.

There is some consideration given by Renteria to Abreu, in his sixth year with the team, who has a preference to play in the field.

"I was real clear with both of them as how we were to proceed," Renteria said. "And I was real clear with Yonder when we spoke on the phone once we acquired him of how I viewed Pito [Abreu]. That being said, both of them have mutual respect, they were in contact with each other, they both understood the ways I was going to try to manage their usage."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.