FOR DELMONICO, A NEW DAWN

Chicago Sun-Times - - SOX BEAT - Daryl Van Schouwen

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.

‘Bit­ter­sweet’ opener

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.”

Re­mem­ber­ing FarMIO

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." ✶

JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IM­AGES

Rookie Luis Robert gets his first ma­jor-league hit, a single in the sec­ond in­ning Fri­day.

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