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Moncada, Renteria not focused on strikeouts

Second baseman making adjustments in first full MLB season
September 22, 2018

CHICAGO -- Say the phrase "single-season strikeout record" to White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada and manager Rick Renteria, and neither individual has much of a reaction.At a Major League high of 207 entering Saturday night's game against the Cubs, Moncada is unlikely to surpass Mark Reynolds' MLB record of

CHICAGO -- Say the phrase "single-season strikeout record" to White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada and manager Rick Renteria, and neither individual has much of a reaction.
At a Major League high of 207 entering Saturday night's game against the Cubs, Moncada is unlikely to surpass Mark Reynolds' MLB record of 223 set in 2009 with Arizona, or the White Sox record held by Adam Dunn with 222 in 2012. But even if he gets close, Moncada sticks to his season-long view of it being part of the learning process.
"I never thought about that," said Moncada through interpreter Billy Russo. "I just tried to play my game, enjoy the game, do the things I can do to help us win games. I don't like to strike out, but I never thought about that record."
"The only talk about it is when you guys ask me about it. I don't talk to him about it," Renteria said. "I talk to him more about his approaches. [White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson] talks to him about his approaches, how he's attacking a particular pitcher and what he's going to do and then reinforce when he does have good at-bats, even though the outcome might not be a good outcome."
Those outcomes have been quite positive since Moncada reached a low mark, average-wise, of .217 on Aug. 23. He had a .320 average and .815 OPS over the next 25 games, including seven doubles, one triple, one home run and 14 RBIs.
Moncada has made an adjustment by elevating his hands in the approach leading in part to his improved results but credits continued hard work at the core of the change. The 23-year-old recently said the 2018 season was a good one for him regardless of the numbers because his first full year became a true learning experience.
This strong finish still gives Moncada a good feeling going into the offseason.
"Yes, I think so," Moncada said. "If I keep applying the things I learn every day I can improve, and I can be a very good player. I'm pretty confident I can be that baseball player that everybody thought I can be, and the great baseball player I know I can be."
Abreu still out of action
Jose Abreu continues to heal from an infection in his right thigh caused by an ingrown hair. Renteria said there's a chance Abreu could return before next Sunday's last home game, but there's also a chance Abreu won't play again this season as he works through the lingering pain.
"He's got a pretty significant healing process he's got going on with that thigh right now," Renteria said. "He's here and you'll see him around. We're trying to keep him limited to what he's doing and let that thing heal. But we'll see how it goes the next few days. I know we've only got a few more days left."
Thrill of the rivalry
With crowds surpassing 30,000 expected all weekend, the thrill of the Cubs/White Sox rivalry continues to filter down to the participants involved in the games.
"That was the closest thing you can get from a regular-season game to a World Series game," Moncada said of Friday's 10-4 victory over the Cubs. "It was a real nice feeling. I could feel it."
"I know that the feelings run strong on either side. I've learned that from both sides. I have a particular perspective on that," said Renteria, who also has managed the Cubs. "But it's a good thing. It brings out the fan in everybody. I think the competitive juices from every fan, the South and the North, are here."
The games coming in the second-to-last weekend of the season also allows a rebuilding White Sox team playing better baseball over the last two months to serve as a spoiler for a Cubs team trying to solidify its playoff spot.
"I enjoy it, I know the guys have a lot of fun with it because the fans are out, they're cheering, booing, whatever the case may be," Renteria said. "But they're out here supporting their team and it's nice to have them."
Leury returns
Outfielder Leury Garcia was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list after being placed there on Aug. 21 with a strained left hamstring. The active roster increased to 33.

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