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Moncada enjoys proven success in No. 2 spot

@scottmerkin
May 17, 2019

CHICAGO -- Yoán Moncada has hit leadoff and second against right-handed pitchers, and he's batted fifth against left-handers in the White Sox lineup during the 2019 season. But the talented third baseman has a preference of that two-spot if given the choice. “I do whatever the team needs me to

CHICAGO -- Yoán Moncada has hit leadoff and second against right-handed pitchers, and he's batted fifth against left-handers in the White Sox lineup during the 2019 season.

But the talented third baseman has a preference of that two-spot if given the choice.

“I do whatever the team needs me to do, and I don’t really pay too much attention to that,” Moncada said through interpreter Billy Russo before Thursday's 4-2 win in the series opener against the Blue Jays, when he went 0-for-5 in the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

“But I would prefer to hit in the second spot. I can see a few more pitches being in the second spot instead of the first one.”

All nine of Moncada’s home runs entering Thursday had come from the No. 2 spot, therefore all as a left-handed hitter. Prior to Thursday, he had a .333 average with a 1.117 OPS hitting No. 2, vs. a .238 average and .654 OPS as the leadoff hitter and a .235 average with a .552 OPS hitting fifth.

Moncada has 76 plate appearances combined in the No. 1 and No. 5 spots, compared to 104 in the No. 2 hole. He admits the approach is slightly altered as the leadoff hitter.

“Sometimes leading off the lineup, I need to take more pitches because I need to let the other guys behind me just see how the pitcher is that day,” Moncada said. “You need to change your approach a little bit, but it’s not a big change.”

Anderson gets a rest
White Sox manager Rick Renteria used Wednesday’s off-day to give Tim Anderson back-to-back days off with the shortstop out of Thursday’s starting lineup. Renteria did something similar with Moncada, giving him his first day off this season on Tuesday.

“We talked about it a couple days ago,” Renteria said. ‘The best thing for me to do is try to get those two youngsters that have been on the bases a lot a little break.

“I thought with the off-day and another one today, it would be good. Now I get two days for him and I had two days for Moncy. We have a nice little run of games that we're not going to have any break. I think that will help us.”

Starting Thursday, the White Sox are slated to play games on 18 straight days before a scheduled off-day on June 3. They played 15 games in 14 days leading into Wednesday.

Jimenez on the mend
Eloy Jiménez's injury rehab assignment to test his high right ankle sprain with Triple-A Charlotte features a 4-for-11 showing in his first three games, including a 2-for-5 performance on Thursday. He was replaced in the top of the 10th inning by Adam Engel in the Knights’ walk-off victory and per general manager Rick Hahn’s comments earlier in the week, Jimenez would then be re-evaluated after this third contest.

“Everything as long as he's healthy is encouraging,” Renteria said. “So right now, he's moving along.”

There’s still a chance for Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Jimenez, ranked as the Nos. 1 and No. 3 prospects overall by MLB Pipeline, to meet up this weekend. But the White Sox could wait for the next series in Houston to activate Jimenez.

“Eloy and I have been friends for a long time, since the Dominican,” Guerrero Jr. said through an interpreter. “I also texted him when he signed that contract. Me thinking of him as a hitter, you guys know he's a great hitter.”

Banuelos could make next start
An MRI on Manny Banuelos' left shoulder came back clean. So, the southpaw still could make his next scheduled start on Monday in Houston, despite leaving in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s loss to Cleveland with a shoulder strain.

“Manny is continuing to improve,” Renteria said. “Right now, he's day to day. We'll see how he feels tomorrow, and we'll continue to move forward until we know otherwise.”

He said it
“I was out to dinner with my girlfriend. She was upset I kept glancing at my phone. 'Did we get it? No. Did we get it? No.' Not the best shake for the Bulls, but I'm sure we'll get a solid player and hopefully he'll fit right in.” –- Charles Tilson__, a diehard Bulls fan, on the NBA Draft lottery

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