“What a special player he is,” Engel said. “I can't say enough good things about him as a player and as a young guy.”
“Obviously, we all know the guy flies. And he wants to play fast,” Engel said. “So that's been my biggest communication to him, dating back to the spring: ‘If we can hit on these two or three things defensively in the outfield and you get really good at these two or three things, then you can play as fast as you want.’
“That's one thing I've told him. And I've had the conversation with him like, ‘You're a special case.’ We have these rules in baseball, like don't make the third out at third, all these rules you learn as you get older. I'm like, ‘All these rules are not for fast players like yourself. You kind of have to push the limits and push the boundaries because you have the ability to do things that other people can't. And the only way you're going to know what works and what doesn't work for you is to test it.’”
Keuchel feels regular-season ready
After allowing one hit over five innings during Monday night’s 5-3 exhibition victory over the Cubs at Guaranteed Rate Field, left-hander Dallas Keuchel feels ready for the regular season to begin.
Keuchel’s first start comes Saturday at home against the Twins. And as much as he feels prepared to go, he knows the team is just as ready.
“That’s the biggest thing for me when I wake up in the morning, is the fact we know we have a chance to win every night,” Keuchel said Monday night on a Zoom call. “That hasn’t been there the last four or five years. Once a team knows that is possible, that’s when really good things can happen.”
The southpaw needed 55 pitches to work through five, striking out two and recording nine outs via the ground ball. Keuchel yielded a second-inning single to Kyle Schwarber, but he was quickly erased on a double-play grounder from Steven Souza Jr.
“I probably could have kept going, but the way things are progressing, I think for me the up and down is the biggest part,” Keuchel said. “If I get to five that’s a really really good cursor for me to open up with the six innings in my first start, or seven if we can get there. The five-inning mark for me is the plateau that pushes me forward.”
Nomar still sidelined
Mazara did not play for a third straight game, with manager Rick Renteria saying he remained under the weather.
“Right now, I couldn’t expand on that other than he’s still feeling a little under the weather,” Renteria said. “And once I know more, if we are able, we will share that with you.”
Nick Madrigal, the No. 4 White Sox prospect, started at second base Monday against the Cubs. Leury García, projected by many as the team’s Opening Day second baseman with a healthy Mazara in play, started in right.
Dylan Cease and Reynaldo López are scheduled to throw during Tuesday’s in-camp day, with Carlos Rodón getting the start for Wednesday night’s final exhibition game against the Brewers. Gio González also is scheduled to throw against his old team.
Renteria indicated the White Sox could pair starters such as Rodón and González in an attempt to do whatever possible to win games during this short season.
“None of that is out of the question,” Renteria said. “The truth is these guys have not been stretched out to go eight or nine innings even though we have the type and quality of arms who potentially can do that. I cannot rule out under the circumstances certain moments of creativity with our pitching.”
They said it
“He's just like all young hitters, just more experience, more at-bats, recognizing and getting to know some of the opponents and then just settling in. We've seen a lot more confidence in him, not that he's lacked it. But just again, more comfortable in his own skin.” -- Renteria, on Madrigal
“It's hard to really know what a 60-game season's going to be like. It's unprecedented. We've never played a 60-game season, so it's going to be kind of hard to really have an expectation as to what that's going to be like. But everybody's in the same boat. No matter what the situation is, no matter how many games we were set to play this year, we all feel very good as a club as to where we're at going into the season.” -- Engel