'Adrenaline' fuels Moncada's slide into first

May 16th, 2021

CHICAGO -- knows that sliding into first base can present more harm than good. But the White Sox third baseman still made that move with runners on first and second and two outs Saturday night, trying to beat out an eighth-inning grounder up the middle in a 4-1 deficit to the Royals in a game the White Sox eventually lost, 5-1.

“In the heat of the game, the situation, it was a big moment for us,” said Moncada through interpreter Billy Russo. “Then you have the adrenaline running through your body.

“It’s not a decision you make in that moment, even though we know that we can’t do that. It’s just something that, in the moment, you can’t control.”

Moncada entered Sunday featuring a slash line of .329/.442/.481 with 15 walks and 16 RBIs over his last 23 games. He feels the difference from the 2020 season, when Moncada battled COVID-19 and its after-effects.

“I didn’t feel good. I felt weak,” said Moncada of last season. “Now I feel really good, and I’ve been feeling good.”

White Sox reach 85 percent threshold
The White Sox reached the 85 percent vaccination threshold for Tiered players and staff on Saturday. All vaccinated Tier 1 players and staff are not required to wear face masks in the dugout, among other relaxed protocols.

“I’m sure MLB is going to stay on top of it," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. "But there are differences, a little more freedom, especially not wearing a mask. But I’m not sure when we go to Minnesota, what we’ll do there as far as getting away from the hotel. But we are trending in the right direction, not just baseball, but as a country.”

After 10 straight losses to open the season, Class A Kannapolis claimed a 1-0 victory over Fayetteville on Saturday night. The White Sox Low-A affiliate scored on a Jose Rodriguez groundout in the first inning and held on from there.

Andrew Dalquist, the White Sox No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, struck out two over three scoreless innings, and Jeremiah Burke followed with five scoreless. The Cannon Ballers were no-hit by Fayetteville on Friday in a 5-0 loss.

Third to first
• La Russa believes some sort of Minor League rehab assignment announcement for Adam Engel will be coming soon. The outfielder, who has been gone since the end of Spring Training with a right hamstring strain, continues to make progress.

“I’ve been watching a lot of his workouts, and he certainly is looking more like himself,” La Russa said. “As far as the physical getting to 100 percent, I think he’s either there or very close.”

• Moncada has kept in frequent contact with left fielder Eloy Jiménez and center fielder Luis Robert since their injuries. Jiménez had surgery to repair a left pectoral tendon rupture before the start of the regular season, while Robert suffered a right hip flexor tear while running to first base against the Indians on May 2.

“They are anxious to come back, but they know they have to wait until they are really healthy to come back,” Moncada said. “We’ve talked often.”

• Yasmani Grandal caught Sunday’s series finale against the Royals and will be starting Monday night in Minnesota. Grandal also could be catching Tuesday night, per La Russa, depending on what the team does with Wednesday’s day game after a night game. Grandal suffered a right knee injury on Feb. 24 during a Spring Training running drill, and the White Sox were careful with his usage during April, in particular.

“Between his preparation and the extra work he does in the training room and the work he gets there, it’s gotten us to this point,” La Russa said. “Knock on wood, we keep him in there.”

They said it
“None of us were expecting him to play and let alone hit a home run. That’s the kind of leader José Abreu is.” -- Carlos Rodón on José Abreu returning to the lineup Saturday after his violent collision with Hunter Dozier on Dozier’s popup near home plate in Game 1 Friday. Abreu played in his 999th career game Sunday.

“Leadership is about being positive and being honestly positive. When something goes wrong, you’re positive you’re going to fix it. You’ll find a way to get through it. Players don’t want to be beaten down. You’ve got to speak the truth. If you make a mistake, you’ve got to confront it, we’re going to fix it.” -- La Russa