Nicky Delmonico

Nicky Delmonico in concussion protocol after crashing into outfield wall during spring training game

Nicky Delmonico in concussion protocol after crashing into outfield wall during spring training game

Nicky Delmonico is in the concussion protocol after crashing into the left-field wall during Thursday's Cactus League game at Camelback Ranch.

Delmonico received help getting to and staying on his feet and was taken off the field by a cart after crashing into the door that opens to the visiting bullpen while chasing down a fly ball in left field.

The White Sox announced that he is in the concussion protocol shortly after he was taken out of the game.

Delmonico, who had just entered the game as a defensive replacement for Eloy Jimenez, had been swinging a hot bat in spring training. He entered Thursday's game with a .400/.471/.533 slash line with six hits, including two doubles, and a pair of walks in his seven games.

But even those numbers might not have been enough to get him a spot on the team's Opening Day roster. The White Sox have a crowded outfield with Jon Jay, Adam Engel, Daniel Palka, Leury Garcia and Delmonico jockeying for spots and Jimenez, the organization's top-ranked prospect who is expected to come up and claim one of those spots in mid April.

How Delmonico's injury Thursday will impact the competition for those outfield jobs remains to be seen.

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Spring Break: White Sox stars Daniel Palka and Nicky Delmonico play Top Golf

Spring Break: White Sox stars Daniel Palka and Nicky Delmonico play Top Golf

Taking a break from the rigors of spring training, White Sox outfielders Daniel Palka and Nicky Delmonico joined me at Top Golf in Glendale, Arizona, for the inaugural Camelback Open, a three-phase duel featuring a chipping, par-three and long-drive competition.
 
Delmonico showed up dressed as a professional golfer, but don’t let the wardrobe fool you. Palka arrived looking like a professional lumberjack, and he fooled us all with his uncanny ability to score points. How did he do it? That is currently an open investigation, but you can be the judge of that.
 
While they both bat left handed on the baseball field, Palka and Delmonico surprisingly golf right handed. Together, the White Sox duo did whatever they could to throw me off my game, using methods of distraction and intimidation.
 
In the end, there was a winner of the Camelback Open. Who was crowned the champion? As Palka put it, “You don’t have to look like a golfer, you don’t have to be an old man to be a golfer like Chuck (I resent that), you just have to be the smartest one and you’ll come through on top. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

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Hope springs eternal: Nicky Delmonico kicks off White Sox spring training with a World Series prediction of sorts

Hope springs eternal: Nicky Delmonico kicks off White Sox spring training with a World Series prediction of sorts

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The first image a lot of White Sox fans saw from spring training was doctored.

I hate to break it to you, but the White Sox have not preemptively erected three years' worth of world championships on the outside of their facility here at Camelback Ranch. It was all just Instagram magic, courtesy of Nicky Delmonico. The lack of commas really gives it away.

There are probably a lot of folks out there rolling their eyes, raising their eyebrows or perhaps even spit-taking over the latest example of Delmonico's unbridled optimism.

Even if Manny Machado's unending free agency concludes with him in black pinstripes, the White Sox are not expected to contend for a playoff spot in 2019 — and certainly not a World Series championship.

But, hey, this is kind of Delmonico's thing. Last year about this time, he was telling Our Chuck Garfien that the 2018 White Sox were going to "surprise the world." Presumably, he meant they would surprise in a good way. Instead, they lost 100 games.

But hope springs eternal, and spring has arrived. With it comes the latest bout of optimism.

"We’re hungry," Delmonico said Tuesday, a day before pitchers and catchers are due to report and White Sox spring training officially gets going. "When you come off a 100-loss season, it kind of pisses you off. And I think we’re all in the same group and the same schedule of what we want to do this year and how we want to go about our business.

"Why not? That’s why you play. Every year you’ve got to have a goal. And if it’s not to be in the World Series, then what are you working for?"

You'd think everyone would have learned their lesson after last year, when Delmonico talked of a surprise that never came. General manager Rick Hahn, in discussing this offseason's pursuits of Machado and Bryce Harper. has referenced the suggestion it might be a year early to consider penciling this rebuilding team into contention. In 2019, Opening Day will likely come without Eloy Jimenez on the roster. It will come without Dylan Cease and Luis Robert on the roster. It will come with Michael Kopech on the disabled list, where he's expected to remain until Opening Day 2020. That doesn't spell contender, and it points to a year down the road being the one when things finally transition from rebuilding to contending.

But that's not what the beginning of spring training is about for these guys. They're here to work. They're here to, well, surprise the world.

"We feel like we can take our division," Delmonico said, confidently aiming for something a rung or two below the digital redecorating he did on the outside of the facility. "If we stay healthy, put the things right, go out there and handle our business, I think we can go out there and compete with any team.

"We had a lot of things go wrong (in 2018), people getting hurt. I feel like we’re hungry. And that can be dangerous. We’ve just got to go into camp and get the little things right."

And, while perhaps unlikely, it's not the world's most insane declaration, that the White Sox, following up a 100-loss campaign, could threaten for the crown in the weak American League Central or compete with a bunch of other teams in the same spot they are for an AL wild card berth.

Beyond the Cleveland Indians — a team whose contention window is shrinking to the point where they've entertained offers for some of their best players this winter — none of the other three teams in the division should scare the White Sox. The Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers are further behind in their own rebuilds than the White Sox ever were, and while the Minnesota Twins have been active this offseason, whether they've built a roster capable of contending remains to be seen.

And outside the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Houston Astros, which teams outside the Central are playoff locks? The next best team is ... the Tampa Bay Rays? The Oakland Athletics? The Los Angeles Angels have been to the postseason a grand total of one time since Mike Trout has been a big leaguer.

Joining Delmonico in his optimism surrounding this team might be a leap for a lot of White Sox fans. But it's not exactly impossible to see where he's coming from.

This isn't an effort to pump up expectations or to try to sell tickets on the metaphorical bandwagon. The White Sox are coming off a 100-loss campaign and seem set — regardless of where a certain free-agent infielder might finally land — to focus on another year of development at both the major league and minor league level.

But for the guys getting to work this week out in the desert, it's about more than that. It's about contending now. It's about doing a little redecorating on the outside of the facility.

Hope springs eternal. Welcome to spring training.

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