White Sox summon 'next man up' mentality in Moncada's absence

April 11th, 2024

CLEVELAND -- 's worst fears came true Wednesday.

A day after crumbling with an injury while running to first base, the White Sox announced that Moncada was diagnosed with a left adductor strain that will keep him out for 3-to-6 months.

“It's the first time I'm going to be out for that amount of time in my career,” a downtrodden Moncada said Wednesday through interpreter Billy Russo before Chicago's 7-6 loss to Cleveland in 10 innings. While speaking, Moncada leaned on a wall in the tunnel under Progressive Field with a hood over his head, visibly wearing the pain of the injury. “When I was running down the line, it felt like something broke. Honestly, that was the worst pain I've felt in my career.”

Moncada had been dealing with a nagging hip/adductor injury prior to Tuesday, but neither he nor manager Pedro Grifol knew if the nagging injury was the result of his injury on Tuesday.

“It wasn’t the same thing, but who knows how one affects the other,” Grifol said. “I’m not capable of answering that stuff; I’m not an expert in that field. All I know is that he’s going to miss a significant amount of time and I hurt for him.”

With Moncada down, the White Sox have now lost the No. 2 (Moncada), No. 3 (Luis Robert Jr.) and No. 4 (Eloy Jiménez) hitters from their Opening Day lineup to injury.

“It’s just sad to see these guys go down after putting in so much work in the offseason and Spring Training to put themselves in a good spot where they can go out and have a really good year. They’re extremely talented guys,” Grifol said.

Prior to getting hurt, Moncada was off to a great start to the season. Not only was he hitting .282 with three doubles and a triple in 11 games, but he was also doing the small things that Grifol wanted his team to emphasize.

“He had played really good baseball so far on both sides of the ball and was doing a really good job on the bases, too,” Grifol said. “His primary leads were the best he’s had in his career, his secondary leads were the best he’s had in his career. He was taking a lot of pride in the little things of the game.”

Moncada’s injury has just added to the team’s “next man up” mentality. Grifol said that the team will rotate to replace Moncada at third base, with Nicky Lopez, Lenyn Sosa and Braden Shewmake all in line for reps at third. Sosa got the start on Wednesday.

“First and foremost, I have to stay healthy,” Sosa said through Russo. “Keep doing what I’ve been doing since Spring Training and just working on my defense, too.”

The White Sox also recalled OF Oscar Colás to take Moncada’s spot on the 26-man roster. While Colás had some highlights last year like his walk-off against the Orioles, the former top prospect only hit .216 in 75 games with the White Sox, and routinely looked overmatched at the plate and in the field.

“Last year I learned a lot,” Colás said through Russo. “It was my first year in the Majors and was a great experience. I learned a lot on and off the field, especially controlling my emotions on the offensive and defensive side.”

Now, he’ll get his first chance to show that he belongs with the White Sox.

“His attitude has been really good; he’s been fundamentally sound,” Grifol said. “I’m just looking for him to play baseball the way we asked him to play it last year. I was happy to hear that news and now it’s his time to shine."

Still, none of that does anything to numb the string from losing Moncada, who is in the last year of his five-year, $70 million extension he signed prior to the 2020 season. While the contract has a $25 million club option for 2025, it also has a $5 million buyout, which seems like the likely option of the two.

“It’s frustrating because of the work I put in [in the offseason], but even if your body doesn't feel right you need to be mentally strong,” Moncada said.