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Cactus opener rained out; Giolito 'right on track'

Robert adjusting approach to potentially bat leadoff in Majors
@scottmerkin
February 22, 2020

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Luis Robert will have to wait at least one day to bat leadoff for the White Sox, as the team’s 2020 Cactus League opener against the Angels at Camelback Ranch on Saturday was rained out. Robert has hit in that top spot throughout his Minor League career

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Luis Robert will have to wait at least one day to bat leadoff for the White Sox, as the team’s 2020 Cactus League opener against the Angels at Camelback Ranch on Saturday was rained out.

Robert has hit in that top spot throughout his Minor League career since joining the organization, but he knows hitting leadoff in the Majors would require a slight adjustment to his approach.

“If I have to be the leadoff hitter in the Majors, I will have to take more pitches and be more patient at home plate,” Robert said through interpreter Billy Russo. “That is something I’m not used to, because I’m a very aggressive hitter. But if they ask me to do it, I’ll do it.”

Hitting lower in the order, somewhere in the 7-9 range, actually would benefit the multi-talented Robert, as the 22-year-old gets his big league legs under him. White Sox manager Rick Renteria has talked of easing Robert into the lineup by starting him lower at the season’s outset.

“It will help me to keep my aggressiveness at home plate, because being in the bottom part of the lineup, I still can swing and be aggressive,” Robert said. “As a leadoff hitter in the Majors, I know I will have to take some pitches and be more calm. But I think it’s going to help me just to hit in the bottom part of the lineup.”

Giolito feeling good on the side
The inclement weather didn’t stop Lucas Giolito, the projected White Sox Opening Day starter, from throwing his first Spring Training side session Saturday.

“I had a nice warmup in our new pitching lab. Great facility,” Giolito said. “Simulated long toss into the net and threw 20 pitches off the hill and it felt very good.

“Right on track. Right where I want to be.”

Giolito had been slowed by a strained chest muscle near his right rib cage, although he told MLB.com this week he hadn’t felt any discomfort in the area since originally feeling it near the end of January. He reiterated that Saturday.

“When I came back, and got back on the throwing program, I haven’t felt a single thing since. It’s pretty much in the past now,” Giolito said. “I believe I’ll throw another side [session] in a couple of days.

“We are going day by day, step by step. All I can say for today is I felt 100 percent. I was happy with my command of my heater. Off-speed pitches felt good coming out. Couldn’t ask for more.”

Grandal also progressing
Yasmani Grandal’s left calf strain will keep him out of Cactus League action for the first week, as announced by general manager Rick Hahn during his opening Spring Training media session. But the White Sox catcher doesn’t seem to have been slowed by the minor injury.

“He's doing very, very well,” Renteria said. “We're taking a very conservative approach.

“He's been running, he's been catching, he's been hitting, doing different methods to make sure he's getting his legs underneath him. We're just going to continue to monitor how much we push him. We don't want that thing to get hurt.”

White Sox agree to terms with 23
The White Sox have agreed to terms on 2020 contracts with the following players:

Pitchers (14): Zack Burdi, Dylan Cease, Jimmy Cordero, Dane Dunning, Bernardo Flores Jr., Matt Foster, Jace Fry, Carson Fulmer, Lucas Giolito, Ian Hamilton, Michael Kopech, Jimmy Lambert, Reynaldo López and José Ruiz

Catchers (3): Zack Collins, Yermín Mercedes and Seby Zavala

Infielders (2): Danny Mendick and Yoán Moncada

Outfielders (4): Micker Adolfo, Luis Basabe, Adam Engel and Blake Rutherford

Moncada and Giolito were at the top end of this group, earning $627,000 for ’20. With the signings, all members of the White Sox 40-man roster are under contract for the 2020 season.

Third to first
• Saturday’s postponement will not be made up. Reynaldo López, the scheduled White Sox opening starter, still went through his regular work in the cages.

• Randel Mondesi, a 17-year-old, right-handed-hitting outfielder, was signed by the White Sox, as announced by the club on Saturday. The son of Raul Mondesi and the brother of fleet-footed Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi will play for the White Sox Dominican Summer League team.

• Renteria’s opening lineup featured Robert in center followed by shortstop Tim Anderson, first baseman José Abreu, right fielder Nomar Mazara, left fielder Eloy Jiménez, Daniel Palka at designated hitter, James McCann at catcher, third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert and Leury García at second.

They said it
“He has helped me in everything. We have been working every day in a good routine. He’s going to be with me the whole year, giving me advice and helping me out.” -- Robert, on Abreu’s early guidance

Up next
After Saturday's Cactus League opener was rained out for the White Sox, right-hander Dylan Cease gets the honor of making the team's first spring start in a contest against the Reds in Goodyear (listen live on Gameday Audio at 2:05 p.m. CT). The lineup for Saturday's opener had featured six players who could be in the Opening Day lineup -- albeit for a limited amount of innings this early in Arizona. There was no word on Sunday's starters beyond Cease.

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