GLENDALE, Ariz. – Several past injuries have helped Jacob May avoid speculating on a big picture that became much more interesting with the December trade of Adam Eaton.
Limited to 83 games in 2016 after suffering abdomen strains on the left and right sides, May wants to show the White Sox he’s able to bring his highly-energetic approach to the field every day.
Of course he heard about it when Eaton was shipped to the Washington Nationals for three minor-league pitchers. The trade opened a starting spot in the White Sox outfield. But May – who went 4-for-5 with two runs scored in a 13-7 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch on Saturday – doesn’t want to let a distraction prevent him from accomplishing his goals.
“I go out there every day and try to play hard and show off my athleticism,” May said. “I think that’s what I kind of bring to the table, a little bit of speed and I feel like that can help any team. Any time I can go out there and make a big play on defense or steal a base, that’s ultimately my goal to be that guy in the major leagues. So I feel like that and still obviously have a lot more to show. I have to show them I can stay consistent.”
A third-round draftee in 2013, May is hitting .357/.386/.548 in 44 plate appearances and four steals in his second big league camp. He produced an .882 OPS with four stolen bases in 44 plate appearances last spring and looked as if he’d given the White Sox something to ponder when it was time for September promotions.
Then the two disabled list trips happened.
A season earlier, May was limited to 101 games after a concussion sidelined him for seven weeks. May’s 2014 campaign also ended a few weeks early because of a bruised right pinky.
“He’s missed some time because of it,” said former player development director and current third-base coach Nick Capra. “But we’ve seen small sample sizes of what he can do along the way. He’s got tools and he knows how to play the game.”
May is currently ranked the No. 18 prospect in the farm system, according to MLB.com. Scouting analysts project May to be more of a fourth outfielder than a starter. But with Charlie Tilson set to begin this season on the DL, May has put himself in the mix of players who potentially could travel north with the White Sox when they head to Chicago in 11 days. Peter Bourjos is thought to be the front-runner for center field with May and Adam Engel in the mix.
“(May is) an excellent defender, can swing from both sides of the plate,” said manager Rick Renteria, who was ejected in the third inning for arguing balls and strikes. “He’s been trying to get on base by bunting to both sides. He’s trying to see the landscape of how they try to play him.
“He can do a lot of things. We can move him around from center to left to right. Just his ability to try to get on base. Him just being himself is what I’m looking for him to do.”
May believes he’s displaying his skillset by focusing on himself and not focusing on any decisions he doesn’t have a say in. Even though the Eaton trade caught his eye, May knew not to pay too much attention after a series of “frustrating” injuries.
“I definitely got text messages with people letting me know that,” May said. “But it still didn’t change anything whether I make the club or not. If the Chicago White Sox want me in the big leagues than ultimately they’ll bring me up there. Eaton is an amazing player and he’s really good and it’s tough to lose somebody like that on the club. But it’s part of the business. It’s not going to change my mindset. I came in here last year with the same mentality, determined to make an impression on the coaching staff. When my time comes it comes.”
Starting pitcher Carson Fulmer had a tough time Saturday against the Dodgers. He allowed three runs and five hits in four innings. Jake Petricka also allowed two runs while Zach Putnam gave up three.
The White Sox also said that relief pitcher Juan Minaya is out indefinitely with an abdominal tear. Renteria said Minaya would rest for the next few weeks, which would hurt his chances of breaking with the club.