Mon­cada looks good, fields good

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN, STAFF RE­PORTER dvan­schouwen@sun­times.com @CST_­sox­van

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.

JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES

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.

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