Bat­tle with Cease sug­gests Robert will be a fea­tured player soon

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS -

Luis Robert vs. Dy­lan Cease in a sim­u­lated game is about as good as it gets for sur­vey­ors of the White Sox’ re­build and fu­ture, which was en­cap­su­lated in that par­tic­u­lar matchup Mon­day morn­ing at Guar­an­teed Rate Field.

Cease, 24, the gifted right-han­der ac­quired from the Cubs with Eloy Jimenez in the trade for Jose Quin­tana, was left tip­ping his cap to Robert, 22, the sculpted cen­ter fielder from Cuba who’s a fa­vorite on many Amer­i­can League Rookie of the Year bet­ting cards.

There were two tips from Cease, ac­tu­ally — the first sim­ply for how the 6-2, 210-pound Robert looks in a uni­form. The sec­ond was for Robert’s line drive to cen­ter that bounced off the fence.

“I think the big­gest thing is just how big he is,” Cease said.

Af­ter­ward, Robert and Cease were fea­tured on the Sox’ video calls with re­porters. (This is how it’s done in the coro­n­avirus world; re­porters have no club­house or on-field ac­cess, as they nor­mally would dur­ing train­ing and the reg­u­lar sea­son). Cease of­fered an apt de­scrip­tion of the guy he’ll be count­ing on to run down fly balls in the out­field gaps.

“On Twit­ter, some­one tweeted an Un­der Ar­mor man­nequin [to cap­ture Robert’s essence], and it’s ac­tu­ally pretty ac­cu­rate,” Cease said. “That’s what he looks like.

“Be­sides today, I haven’t re­ally got­ten an op­por­tu­nity to watch him a whole lot. He squared me up good on one of them today, and he looks like he’s go­ing to be a very tal­ented player.”

With the fleet Robert in cen­ter, Jimenez in left, Yoan Mon­cada at third, Tim An­der­son at short­stop and young pitch­ers Lu­cas Gi­olito, Cease and Michael Kopech on the mound — when­ever Kopech re­turns af­ter deal­ing with a per­sonal mat­ter — the Sox have a young core worth be­ing op­ti­mistic about. Cease and Robert have oo­dles of tal­ent, but nei­ther has proven any­thing yet, with Cease pitch­ing to a 5.79 ERA in 73 ma­jor-league in­nings in 2019 and Robert not hav­ing played a game, although he tore up mi­nor-league pitch­ing at three lev­els last sea­son.

Both have plenty in their tool chests and high ceil­ings. And both know it, with Robert flash­ing more swag­ger on the sub­ject than Cease. Maybe it’s be­cause Robert is be­ing touted as the game’s next su­per­star.

“Yeah, I see or hear all of that stuff,” Robert said through a trans­la­tor. “I try to not pay at­ten­tion to that. I know what I can do, and some­times if you hear all that stuff, you’re go­ing to have more pres­sure on you, and that might not be good for you. It’s good if peo­ple say that, but I just try to not pay too much at­ten­tion to it.”

The nar­ra­tive on Robert’s rookie year will be how he ad­justs as it goes along. With only 60 games, you won­der if the short sea­son isn’t on his side. He talked openly about the ad­just­ments he’ll have to make as pitch­ers zero in on how to pitch him, but he re­mains con­fi­dent.

“My ex­pec­ta­tions and goals are al­ways the same,” he said. “Give 100 per­cent al­ways on the field, help the team as much as I can, and hope­fully go to the post­sea­son. And if I’m lucky enough, maybe win the Rookie of the Year. Those are my goals, and if I stay healthy, I feel con­fi­dent I can do that.”


Luis Robert (left) and Dy­lan Cease, both key mem­bers of the Sox’ young core, faced each other Mon­day.

DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN dvan­schouwen@sun­ | @CST_­sox­van

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