Mon­cada, Jimenez pro­vide some hope

Young corner­stones giv­ing boost to of­fense early in sea­son

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - NCAA TOURNAMENT - By Phil Thomp­son plthomp­[email protected]­bune.com Twit­ter @_phil_thomp­son

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.

NUCCIO DINUZZO/GETTY-AFP

Eloy Jimenez sin­gles dur­ing the sixth in­ning Satur­day af­ter­noon at Guar­an­teed Rate Field. It was his third sin­gle of the day against the Mariners.

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