FOR DELMONICO, A NEW DAWN
Released by the White Sox last June and then signed as a non-roster invitee to spring training, Nicky Delmonico completed his comeback from shoulder surgery with a spot in the Opening Day lineup.
Nomar Mazara going on the injured list this week opened the door for Delmonico, who saw his first major-league action in right field when he faced the Twins on Friday night.
“It’s just nice waking up every morning pain-free,” Delmonico said. “I can’t tell you what that does to you mentally and physically.”
A .227/343/.436 career hitter, Delmonico hasn’t been 100 percent since his rookie year in 2017, when he batted .262/.373/.482 with nine homers in 43 games.
This was his first Opening Day start, which no one would have predicted in spring training, when he was a long shot to make the team going in.
“I felt like I did everything I can to be in this position right now,” he said. “So, to go through what I have been through and to get back and have my name in the lineup tonight, it meant a lot.”
Taking a knee
Sox players Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert and coaches Joe McEwing and Daryl Boston knelt during the national anthem before the game in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Manager Rick Renteria and Yoan Moncada each stood with a hand on the shoulder of Anderson, the Sox’ only African-American player.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, two coaches and seven Twins players also knelt.
Before the anthem and after players from both teams were introduced, teams stood beside each other holding a long black cloth in a leaguewide stance against racial injustice, violence and inequality. Renteria knelt for that.
Right-hander Jimmy Lambert was dressed for his first major-league game after an impressive spring and summer camp.
“I’ve come back and been able to get the ball over the plate with all my [four] pitches,” Lambert said. “That’s a big thing for me.”
Lambert, whose younger brother Peter pitches for the Rockies, was informed he made the team Wednesday.
“It was fun to call my dad, my parents, my brothers,” Lambert said. “My younger brother made his debut at Wrigley last year. But it’s kind of bittersweet, I think I can tell you, because everybody kind of wants to be a part of it. But obviously, right now with the circumstances we’re under [no spectators allowed], that’s not possible.”
Robert and the hype
Sox general manager Rick Hahn expects center fielder Robert to be challenged by pitchers the same way Jimenez was during his rookie year in 2019.
“But, boy, he certainly has shown very little signs of having issues with the acclimation process so far,” Hahn said.
Hahn, who signed Robert to a $50 million deal before Robert played a major-league game, has heard all the hype surrounding him.
“And, look, the [comparisons] are what they are,” Hahn said. “They’re exciting, they’re fun to do, but in the end we just want him to be Luis Robert. We think he’s got a chance to be pretty special.”
Renteria got emotional wrapping up his video conference with reporters by paying tribute to longtime broadcaster Ed Farmer, who died April 1.
“Just remember Eddie Farmer,” Renteria said. “We love him." ✶
Rookie Luis Robert gets his first major-league hit, a single in the second inning Friday.