Moncada looks good, fields good
Yoan Moncada looks ready. He made three tough plays at third base going to his left and right and made hard contact in two of his three at-bats in his first game action Monday since testing positive for the coronavirus.
Moncada, who played five innings, had an RBI single to center and lined out against Yu Darvish in the first two innings before being called out on strikes against James Norwood in the fifth inning of the White Sox’ 5-3 exhibition victory against the Cubs at Guaranteed Rate Field. It was the Sox’ second win in two nights against the North Siders.
Moncada rejoined the team four days ago but had not played in any intrasquad scrimmages. He has looked good working out and taking batting practice but hadn’t faced live pitching until hitting against Darvish in the first inning.
“I appreciate [manager] Ricky [Renteria] giving me five innings,” Moncada said. “I made a few good plays. I was ready for every ground ball, prepared for every pitch. I feel good.”
“I was a little surprised, but he’s one of the most athletic guys on the field,” said Sox left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who pitched five innings of one-hit ball.
“He still has enough; he has those fresh legs under him. I would say I was surprised, but it is Moncada.”
Moncada said he doesn’t have his timing at the plate yet.
The Sox scored all five runs in the first against Darvish, four on a long grand slam to center by Eloy Jimenez. The inning was stopped after eight batters, even though the Sox had two outs, to curtail Darvish’s climbing pitch count.
The Sox open the season Friday against the Twins at home. If Moncada is ready, it doesn’t mean he’d be fit to handle playing every day from the get-go, Renteria said.
“Not having had the time that everyone else has, to expect him to go three, four, five, six, seven days in a row, I don’t think it’s prudent,” Renteria said.
Keuchel is superb
Keuchel, who had been sharp in two intrasquad starts, continued the trend by facing the minimum number of batters thanks to a double play, one of nine ground balls induced. Keuchel struck out Javy Baez to end the fourth and Jason Heyward to end the fifth.
He threw 55 pitches in his tuneup for the Sox’ second regular-season game Saturday against the Twins.
“I probably could have kept going, but the way things are progressing, for me the up and down is the biggest part, and if I get to five [innings], that’s a really, really good cursor for me to open up with six innings in my first start or seven if we can get there,” Keuchel said.
Mazara still ‘under the weather’
Meanwhile, right fielder Nomar Mazara was out of the lineup again.
Renteria said Sunday that Mazara was “a little under the weather” and repeated that Monday. Mazara did not play in the intrasquad game Saturday, either.
“Right now, I couldn’t expand on that other than he’s still feeling a little under the weather,” Renteria said. “And once I know more, if we are able, we will share that with you.”
Adam Engel played right field.
Yoan Moncada had an RBI single and went 1-for-3 against the Cubs on Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field. He also made several good plays at third base.