White Sox

Rick Renteria re-emphasizes need for White Sox to play clean baseball

Rick Renteria re-emphasizes need for White Sox to play clean baseball

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Leury Garcia’s inexperience in center field is inevitably going to lead to some of the throwing mistakes he has made the past few games.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria knows that occasionally Garcia will slip up. That’s what happens when a career utility man is asked to play a new position on an everyday basis for the first time. Of Garcia’s 67 career games in center, 42 have come this season.

At the same time, Renteria is trying to find a balance between his expectations and the learning curve.

He expects his team to provide a brand of smart, fundamental baseball. He also has to provide some leeway for the occasional mistake. But in between, Renteria and his staff have had several recent discussions with Garcia about throws that have allowed base runners to take an extra base when they shouldn’t have. On Tuesday, Garcia’s poor throw in the fifth inning got away from Tim Anderson, which allowed both runners aboard to move into scoring position.

“We continue to talk about it,” Renteria said. “But at some point it becomes emphasized a little more firmly, more crisply, and you tighten the importance of being able to make sure you’re doing the little things that are important, not allowing advancement of baserunners. All you’re trying to do is play clean baseball.”

“You have to play clean baseball. I don’t care how good a club you are in terms of talent or not, you have to play clean baseball. And part of that is hitting the cutoff guy. Part of that is not running into outs. Part of that is knowing what you’re supposed to be doing, executing bunts and things of that nature. Every aspect of the game has to be done with a purpose.”

Renteria has emphasized he wants this type of play from the outset of spring training. The focus of the team’s meetings at the start of each series is about what they did right or wrong in the previous games. There’s also individual instruction that goes on daily. But Renteria also realizes he has to balance his desire with the simple fact that he has an inexperienced roster that at times needs more development.

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After Garcia made a pair of overthrows in Detroit and the one on Tuesday, they talked again.

On Tuesday, Garcia caught a hard liner with two men on and before he set his feet, under-armed his return in an attempt to get the ball back in quickly. The throw bounced short of Anderson and scooted away. Renteria likes how Garcia responded immediately by hitting the cutoff man with a hard throw after Kevin Kiermaier’s single in the eighth inning.

“We address it,” Renteria said. “We talk about it. (Garcia) understands and he knows that he’s got to make a better throw and in the next inning there was another play hit out to center field and I think he made a pretty good throw back into the cutoff guy, over the top. I think they’re making adjustments every day. Every play that they make or don’t make, they have an opportunity to gain something from that. He’s not precluded from doing that. He’s learning, he continues to learn. He continues to improve.”

Eloy Jimenez celebrates new contract with monster day in spring training

Eloy Jimenez celebrates new contract with monster day in spring training

The ink on Eloy Jimenez's contract is still drying, but the outfielder already celebrated with a big game in spring training.

Jimenez and Rick Hahn spoke at a press conference mere hours before Saturday's Cactus League game against the Dodgers took place. Then Jimenez did his thing with the bat in the game.

The 22-year-old opened with a walk then followed with a pair of singles later in the game. He saved his best for last with a home run in the eighth inning.

Jimenez had not been having a good spring training and was even sent down to minor league camp nearly two weeks ago. Saturday's action was his first game in big league camp since March 11.

Before Saturday he was hitting .154/.154/.346 in nine games. The 3-for-3 game moved Jimenez's spring numbers to a much more respectable .241/.267/.517. His walk on Saturday was his first in the Cactus League. He now has two home runs.

During Saturday's press conference, Hahn went out of his way to say they are not making any announcements about the Opening Day roster yet. It is still assumed the Jimenez will start with the White Sox, but Hahn said they would like to have face-to-face conversations with the other players involved when it comes to the 25-man roster decisions.

With that said, Jimenez did bat sixth on Saturday. That could be a glimpse of where he will bat on Opening Day with Yoan Moncada (who continued his hot spring with two doubles and a home run on Saturday), Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Yonder Alonso and Welington Castillo batting ahead of Jimenez in the lineup.

Plenty of eyes with remain on Jimenez for the rest of spring and in 2019. He delivered in his first game since signing his new contract.

 

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Nicky Delmonico sent to Triple-A, but do White Sox need to cut another outfielder to clear room for Eloy Jimenez?

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USA TODAY

Nicky Delmonico sent to Triple-A, but do White Sox need to cut another outfielder to clear room for Eloy Jimenez?

The White Sox made a notable outfield cut Saturday, sending Nicky Delmonico to Triple-A Charlotte not long after Eloy Jimenez signed his new six-year deal.

Rick Hahn wouldn't 100-percent confirm during the press conference whether or not Jimenez would be on the team's Opening Day roster, but the new deal eliminates the service-time conversation surrounding Jimenez and allows him to make his major league debut when the regular season starts next week in Kansas City.



If Jimenez is going to end up on the Opening Day roster, the White Sox will need to make room for him. That could mean cutting another outfielder in addition to Delmonico, but not necessarily. More on that in a bit.

Delmonico might have had a tough time making the Opening Day roster even if Jimenez would've started the season in the minor leagues. The White Sox outfield is a crowded one after the offseason addition of veteran Jon Jay. The presence of Adam Engel, Daniel Palka and the versatile Leury Garcia made it difficult to envision a place for Delmonico, who had a disappointing, injury-filled season in 2018 after showing promise at the end of the 2017 campaign.

It seems as if, eventually, the White Sox could have to move another one of those aforementioned outfielders to make room for Jimenez, who figures to be the team's everyday left fielder in 2019. But that decision could be delayed until mid April thanks to a bunch of built-in off days at the start of the regular-season schedule.

Both Hahn and manager Rick Renteria have discussed the possibility of the White Sox using only four starting pitchers at the outset of the season. Thanks to those off days, those four starters can all pitch on regular rest until as late as April 17. So, theoretically, Ervin Santana, who figures to wind up as the team's fifth starter, wouldn't be needed on the major league roster until that finale of a home series against the Kansas City Royals in mid April. That's one less pitcher that needs to be on the roster and one more position player that can be on the roster.

The versatility of Garcia, who has torn the cover off the ball this spring, and infielder Jose Rondon, who has added a little bit of outfield to his repertoire this spring (and is out of options), means they're likely not going anywhere. But instead of having to potentially dispatch of fan favorite Palka before the season even begins, there are potentially two spots available for three players, those two and Engel. Palka brings power, while Engel brings defense. Both have their weaknesses, too, Palka seeming best suited for a DH role that has been given to the combination of Jose Abreu and Yonder Alonso, and Engel the owner of a career .207/.260/.314 slash line.

It's important to note in all of this, too, that Renteria has said that Jay might not be an everyday player. Jay's versatility in the outfield also means he might be playing at one set position all season. So for those arguing that the White Sox could have an everyday outfield of Jimenez, Jay and Palka for the next six months, it might not be so simple. And if Jimenez and Palka are in the corners, that makes Engel's glove all the more valuable.

Jimenez returned to the White Sox lineup for Saturday's Cactus League game, perhaps another sign that he could return to the major league roster after being optioned to Charlotte prior to the announcement of the new contract.

Whether his making the roster would force off another outfielder remains to be seen.

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