Nomar Mazara

With Nomar Mazara on IL, here are White Sox options in right field

With Nomar Mazara on IL, here are White Sox options in right field

Nomar Mazara is not expected to be in the White Sox lineup for Friday’s season-opener.

The team’s new right fielder, acquired in a December trade with the Texas Rangers, was expected to provide a power boost to the White Sox lineup, but that will have to wait at least a little while after he was placed on the injured list Wednesday.

So what’s that mean for right field? And perhaps of more interest to White Sox fans, what’s that mean for Nick Madrigal’s roster status?

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Well, to address the second part of that first, the most logical outcome for Madrigal still figures to be that he’ll make his major league debut roughly a week into the season.

The White Sox have never said that service time plays a role in their decisions regarding when prospects should be promoted to the big leagues. But the realities of baseball are what they are, and even in this most unusual of season, service time is still a thing. If Madrigal doesn’t debut until roughly a week into the 2020 season, the White Sox will gain an extra year of team control.

Perhaps that’s not how it plays out. After all, everyone’s been spending “Summer Camp” talking about how important every single game of the 60-game schedule will be and how critical it is to get off to a good start. Madrigal is the organization’s best second baseman, and he would figure to make the team better from Day 1 if he was part of the Opening Day roster. And maybe a sudden need in right field provides extra incentive for Madrigal to be part of the roster from the jump.

But Rick Hahn has spent the last several years talking about his rebuilding project as a long-term endeavor, and having Madrigal as part of the team for as long as possible helps the White Sox extend their contention window. It’s as simple as that.

OK, so what does Madrigal have to do with Mazara and right field?

RELATED: Nick Madrigal badly wants spot on White Sox roster for Opening Day

Well, the first choice to replace any one of the White Sox three starting outfielders is probably Leury García. But he’ll most likely be starting at second base Friday and until Madrigal arrives on the South Side for good. Now, the White Sox have other infield options, too, and perhaps Rick Renteria wants to put Danny Mendick at second base in the opener, allowing García to play right.

But Yoán Moncada plays a role in this, too. Renteria said Tuesday that he anticipates Moncada will be ready for the opener. But after Moncada missed the first two weeks of the already brief three-week ramp-up period to the start of the season, his manager does not expect him to be able to play a ton of games in a row. That might mean Mendick gets some early season action at third base, requiring García to stay at second.

It all points to Adam Engel getting some more playing time in right field. Expected to be the team’s fourth or fifth outfielder, depending on how you classify the versatile García, Engel’s excellent defensive skills seemed best suited for a late-game defensive replacement for either Mazara in right or Eloy Jiménez in left. But now Engel is likely to get some starts with Mazara on the IL.

Engel’s big league career hasn’t featured a ton of offensive success to go along with his Gold Glove caliber defense in the outfield. But he’s had a solid “Summer Camp,” highlighted by an absolute bomb of a home run off Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks in Sunday night’s exhibition game at Wrigley Field. That dinger started a six-run fifth inning. Engel showed some offensive improvement in the final month of 2019, too, hitting four home runs and picking up three doubles in 82 trips to the plate.

Another name worth noting is Nicky Delmonico, who had a nice spring training and has fared well in "Summer Camp," too. He was Renteria's starting right fielder in Wednesday night's exhibition game against the Milwaukee Brewers and could certainlny be a part of the right-field mix if he lands on the 30-man roster.

With no specific reason given for Mazara’s trip to the injured list, there’s no timetable for his return, either. And so a combination of players might be part of the White Sox lineup for a while in a shortened season the team enters with expectations of reaching the postseason.


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White Sox put Nomar Mazara on IL, outfielder expected to miss season's start

White Sox put Nomar Mazara on IL, outfielder expected to miss season's start

For the second time in the last couple weeks, the White Sox placed one of their starting position players on the injured list without specifying an injury.

Wednesday, it was right fielder Nomar Mazara who headed to the injured list. He is expected to miss the start of the team’s regular-season campaign, which begins Friday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Mazara did not play in the team’s final intrasquad game Saturday and missed the back-to-back exhibition games against the Cubs on Sunday and Monday. Asked about Mazara several times over the course of the last three days, manager Rick Renteria described his new right fielder as being “a little under the weather.”

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Third baseman Yoán Moncada, along with relief pitcher José Ruiz, was similarly placed on the injured list with no accompanying reason July 10. Not until he rejoined the team last Thursday did Moncada reveal that he had tested positive for COVID-19 at the start of the month.

Major League Baseball’s health and safety protocol, as well as existing laws, prevent the White Sox from revealing which players test positive if the players request privacy.

Mazara is one of several newcomers in the White Sox lineup and along with Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnación and Luis Robert is expected to provide a power boost to a lineup that ranked near the bottom of the league in home runs and slugging percentage last season. Mazara hit 79 homers in his first four big league seasons.

Acquired in a trade with the Texas Rangers during the Winter Meetings, Mazara is still just 25 years old, and since making that deal, the White Sox have talked up their belief that they can unlock Mazara’s untapped potential.

That will have to wait at least a little bit longer, though, as it’s now a mystery when Mazara will make his regular-season debut with his new team. Along with no specifics on Mazara’s injury, there is no timetable for his return.

What does it mean for the White Sox in right field until Mazara returns? Adam Engel would figure to be a likely replacement. He’s had a solid “Summer Camp,” highlighted by an absolute bomb of a home run off Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks in Sunday night’s exhibition game at Wrigley Field. That dinger started a six-run fifth inning. Engel showed some offensive improvement in the final month of 2019, too, hitting four home runs and picking up three doubles in 82 trips to the plate.

The White Sox do have some versatility, too, and Leury García could be a common sight in right depending on how long Mazara’s absence lasts. García figures to be the team’s Opening Day second baseman, with highly rated prospect Nick Madrigal perhaps waiting a week or so before making his big league debut. But if Mazara remains out when Madrigal arrives, the versatile García could be frequently used in right field.


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Fun facts from the White Sox media guide that have almost nothing to do with baseball

Fun facts from the White Sox media guide that have almost nothing to do with baseball

 

We’re going to have to wait a while for baseball.

Let’s distract ourselves by looking at some entertaining nuggets from the White Sox media guide that have little or nothing to do with baseball.

— Lucas Giolito’s parents are actors. I’m sure you already knew that. Just like you probably knew that his grandfather was also an actor and played George’s fiance's father on “Seinfeld.” But did you know that Giolito’s father, Rick, appeared in programs like “Jake and the Fatman” and “Hit the Dutchman?” In the former, he played a character named Frank D’Amaso. In the latter, he played Carmine Genovese.

— Dallas Keuchel majored in apparel studies at the University of Arkansas.

— On the subject of apparel, Yasmani Grandal is a co-owner of Force3 Pro Gear, described on its website as “a visionary, 21st century company dedicated to enhancing and revolutionizing protective equipment for active participants in all sports.” They make catcher’s equipment, as well as protective masks for umpires. Former White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers is featured on the website.

— Alex Colome’s nickname is “El Caballo,” which means “The Horse.” White Sox fans may remember that this was also Carlos Lee’s nickname. Can there be “Dos Caballos?”

— Bench coach Joe McEwing is in the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

— Nomar Mazara’s father is a retired general in the Dominican Navy. It’s called the Armada de Republica Dominicana, and it’s been around since 1844.

“When people ask me if my father was in the Navy, they’re surprised because they have no idea we have a Navy,” Mazara told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Jeff Wilson in 2016. “It’s totally different than (in the United States).”

RELATED: Podcast: What Lucas Giolito does with all this down time

— Pitching prospect Jonathan Stiever earned State Player of the Year honors as a high school senior in 2015… in football. He played defensive back and wide receiver at Cedarburg High School in Wisconsin. Watch him ball:

— Pitching coach Don Cooper has an honorary doctoral degree from the New York Institute of Technology and addressed graduation in 2006 via satellite before a Crosstown game against the Cubs.

— In the mid-1980s, head groundskeeper Roger Bossard designed and built the first natural turf soccer fields in Saudi Arabia, and continues to serve as a consultant to the royal family.

“Saudi Arabia is an experience I will never forget, working with royalty,” he told West Suburban Living in 2014. “And they treated me royally as well.”

— Eloy Jimenez “enjoys PlayStation.”

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