Moncada, Jimenez provide some hope
Young cornerstones giving boost to offense early in season
Yoan Moncada has had the hot bat early this season. He entered Saturday’s White Sox-Mariners game at Guaranteed Rate Field leading the league in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS and was tied for second in RBIs.
Eloy Jimenez has been the picture of feast or famine, though Saturday’s game was all feast for the rookie.
But returns after just seven games are that two of the Sox’s youngest hitters — and two of the keys to the rebuild — look like two of their most promising.
An otherwise miserable day for Sox, who suffered a 9-2 rout, provided a milestone for Jimenez. The rookie picked up his first hit at his home park — three, actually — in front of an announced crowd of 31,286.
“I’m feeling better at the plate, better with all the speed of the game. It was nice,” Jimenez said after going 3-for-4.
In the second inning, he singled up in the middle off Mike Leake, took him to left in the fourth and then tagged him a third time in the sixth, driving a 1-1 changeup to right. Jimenez went 0-for-4 in Friday’s home opener with his parents in attendance.
It was the third time this season Jimenez has singled at least twice in a game — the first came March 30, when he got his first big-league hit against the Royals. He was hitless in the other four games, though he did have a RBI on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch in the season opener. Expect some inconsistency from the team’s youngest player at 22.
Manager Rick Renteria said Jimenez has a “really good eye” but he wants to see more patience from him.
“I think he got the ball up, he put the bat on the ball, he found some positive outcomes,” Renteria said. “As long as he’s not trying to do too much, once balls are in manageable zones for him, he’ll be fine. Not only will he find singles, I think he’ll drive the ball as well.”
Jimenez raised his average to .250 (7-for-28), though all of his hits have been singles. He said he’ll worry about power later.
“Yeah, I’m trying to get comfortable first,” he said. “I don’t worry about the home runs because I know they are going to come. I’m just worrying about taking good at-bats and get good pitches to hit.”
For Moncada, it’s a prove-it third season on the South Side, and so far he has been up to the challenge, though his six-game hitting streak came to an end Saturday. Entering the game, Moncada, 23, led the AL in average (.458), on-base percentage (.519), slugging percentage (.875) and OPS (1.394) and was tied for second in RBIs with 10.
His average dropped to .379 after an 0-for-5 day with two strikeouts — only his fifth and sixth whiffs of the season after leading the majors with 217 last season.
Eloy Jimenez singles during the sixth inning Saturday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. It was his third single of the day against the Mariners.