First baseman José Abreu and third baseman Yoán Moncada also joined Grandal at the second spot for their respective positions, with Tim Anderson situated third at shortstop and second baseman Nick Madrigal and designated hitter Yermín Mercedes sitting fourth. The top three vote-getters at each position (top nine in the outfield) move on to Phase 2 to determine who starts in each league.
Grandal’s case is an interesting one. He entered Monday’s contest hitting .157 with just 20 hits in 127 at-bats, but Grandal’s 51 walks lead baseball and have pushed his on-base percentage to .398 and OPS to .807. He also has a 3.26 catcher’s ERA.
“The [batting] average lovers, there aren’t that many anymore,” said White Sox veteran pitcher Dallas Keuchel of his batterymate. “It’s on-base percentage. I call him the 'Walk God'. I mean, it’s impressive -- the command he has of the strike zone, and the power is still there. Ten of his 20 hits are home runs.
“You can kind of pick and choose your player on this team. It’s like you can pick an a la carte or you can do tapas style. You got TA, always consistent hitting .300, so the average is still there for him. He’s on base all the time. Pito [Abreu] is doing his thing again. Yo Yo [Moncada] is back to his MVP form. It’s fun, it really is.”
Keuchel also believes Carlos Rodón should be in consideration for the American League All-Star starting pitcher selection. Rodón’s 1.89 ERA, coming off his one-hit effort Sunday against the Tigers, ranked second in the American League to Lance Lynn’s 1.23 ERA entering Monday.
Jiménez takes a step forward
A statement from the White Sox concerning left fielder Eloy Jiménez’s progress was issued prior to Monday’s contest. Jiménez has been sidelined since the end of Spring Training with a ruptured left pectoral tendon, which he had surgically repaired two days before the start of the regular season.
“White Sox outfielder Eloy Jiménez has been medically cleared to resume baseball activities at the White Sox complex in Glendale, Ariz.,” the statement read. “This phase of the rehabilitation process is estimated to take a minimum of four weeks, after which Jiménez could be cleared for a rehabilitation assignment with a Sox affiliate. There remains no set timetable for Jiménez’s return to the Major League club.”
Manager Tony La Russa said calling the Jiménez update good news was an understatement.
“It’s great news,” La Russa said. “We've been following him closely. A lot of guys are in touch with him on a frequent basis. I had a message from him today, so I called him back and talked to him personally.
“He was congratulating the guys on hanging in there, playing well and letting us know he's excited about beginning the baseball activities and 'We'll see you soon.' And I went, 'Whoops. Soon? No, no, that's not ... Patience, patience, patience. We've got a lot of season left.' But it's great news.”
Third to first
• Moncada was fighting a cold, per La Russa, leading to Leury García getting the start at third base.
“Word is he's got a lot of discomfort,” La Russa said. “He's just not available, so it was easy. Not easy, but it's a logical switch. I was giving Leury a day off and he just plays third base. Hopefully, he's got the thing that's bugged a lot of guys and if it comes quickly, it goes quickly.”
• Jim Leyland was in Toledo, Ohio this past weekend, taking a look at the Tigers’ Triple-A team as part of his special assistant’s job with the organization. But with the White Sox in town to play the Tigers, Leyland made the drive to Detroit to see La Russa and go to a celebratory dinner postgame Saturday night in honor of La Russa moving to No. 2 all time on the Major League manager’s win list.
“Nobody does it better,” said Leyland of La Russa. “You are not second in the world, second all-time in wins as a manager, unless you are pretty good at what you do. He hasn’t missed a beat. I’ve talked to him all the time. He just hasn’t missed a beat. Good for him.”
• Monday marked the first White Sox game since July 18-20, 2006, in Detroit where both teams were ranked 1-2 in the Majors in winning percentage (Tigers won two of three), per STATS.
They said it
“This atmosphere is better than I thought, and I’ve seen it packed here before on a weekend series. We came here with Houston. But nothing like it is now.”
-- Keuchel, on the Guaranteed Rate Field crowds.