Robert feeling more comfortable and his play’s reflecting that
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Luis Robert laced a liner to the right-center-field gap in the fifth inning of a Cactus League game Tuesday against the Giants.
Out of the box, the top prospect in the White Sox organization had one thing on his mind.
“I know that I have good speed,” Robert said Wednesday through an interpreter, “and every time I hit the ball into the gap, my mindset is: ‘Go three. Go three.’ ”
Robert raced around first and turned it up a gear rounding second. That’s where he almost met trouble.
Robert began to lose his footing. He stumbled briefly but regained his balance and then slid headfirst into third.
Several of Robert’s tools were on display again Saturday against the Rangers at Surprise Stadium. Robert homered, singled and stole a base in a 7-5 Sox loss.
The speed that produced 11 triples and 36 stolen bases at three minorleague levels in 2019 is just one of his strengths.
“He has tremendous speed,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said last week. “The things we’re going to continue to watch are, in baserunning, are you doing the right things? The speed is there, but are you doing the right things while you’re going through that process? And he’s going to end up being a pretty willing and active participant on the bases.”
The center fielder also has been active chasing down fly balls.
Robert flexed some muscle Thursday, ripping a double off the left-field wall in the second inning against the Mariners.
“We have to give him some more at-bats during the course of the spring,” Renteria said Saturday. “He’s a longer-leverage-type guy. Timing for him is going to be essential, but he has pretty good bat-to-ball skill. He does seem to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat.
“There is a little bit of swing-andmiss here in the spring, but I’m not really too concerned about it. When he puts the barrel on the baseball, it pretty much jumps off that bat as well as anybody.”
That was the case Saturday with the solo home run to left field in the fourth inning. Robert showed some energy — and inexperience — earlier in the game.
In the second inning he singled to right and stole second. He later rounded too far off third while the Rangers attempted a double play and was thrown out trying to get back to the bag for the final out of the inning.
Robert went 2-for-3, striking out in his final at-bat. He continues to learn as he builds toward his big-league debut.
“I feel comfortable,” Robert, 22, said. “I have been feeling comfortable being able to play in a game and to play in the lineup that we’re going to have.”
First baseman Jose Abreu and left fielder Eloy Jimenez have been among the players keeping Robert loose. On Wednesday, Jimenez took out his phone and pretended to record a video of Robert during an interview with a reporter. Abreu sat at the locker next to Robert and laughed along the way.
“The thing about being around (Abreu), a guy with a lot of experience, he’s been in this league for a very long time (and) he’s been good,” Robert said. “And with Eloy, a young guy too, he knows what he’s doing. He has a lot of talent. He has the experience last year of playing in the majors. He has been very good.
“They are trying to teach me how to do things the right way.”
Some of Robert’s favorite moments this spring have come away from the field.
“(It’s) the communication that we have here, the atmosphere that we have here, just spending time and joking around with the guys,” Robert said. “We’ve been working for the same goal and we’ve been helping each other. And it’s been good.”
Sox rookie Luis Robert takes off for first after lifting a fly ball to the outfield Saturday against the Reds in Arizona.