White Sox

The benefits of a day on the bench: Rick Renteria sat Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada as a teaching tactic

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USA TODAY

The benefits of a day on the bench: Rick Renteria sat Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada as a teaching tactic

This rebuilding season, as most White Sox fans and observers know all too well, is about young players learning how to be the next group of championship contenders on the South Side.

A good deal of that learning process is taking place in the minor leagues, as the organization’s wealth of talented prospects develop into big league caliber players. But there are plenty of current major leaguers who fall into a similar category, guys who haven’t become finished products yet and are going through developmental stages at the big league level.

There might not be two more important members of that group than Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson, the White Sox middle infield of the present and two players the team hopes can be the middle infield of the future, too.

Both guys are struggling at the moment. Moncada ranks second in baseball in strikeouts, with 92, and hasn’t looked right since returning from the disabled list in the middle of May. Anderson has had his own issues at the plate and is one of five players in the game with 11 or more fielding errors this season.

It's obvious that those problems aren’t going to be remedied overnight, and these are the kinds of growing pains that come with any rebuilding effort.

The duo found itself on the bench for Thursday’s loss to the visiting Cleveland Indians, a tactic employed by manager Rick Renteria to allow the two youngsters to see the game from a different perspective. It wasn’t punishment for poor play. It was a teaching tool.

“These are young men who are continuing to develop,” Renteria said after the game. “(Giving them the day off was) more to the point of trying to raise the level of focus and concentration and trying to make sure they stay in every pitch of the game, of which they many times do and then there some fluctuations.

“They are two kids that are pretty special in my eyes, in terms of who we are as an organization. It’s another phase of their growth. We spoke to them a little bit during the ballgame, more to some of the observations they were making on some of the plays that were made or not made, how guys were reacting, what they saw. They had some good responses, which was good.

“They’re going to continue to get better. Our expectations are they will and they’re going to be a part of something good here.”

So did it work?

That kind of thing is terribly difficult to measure, obviously, as a young player’s development is made up of so many different moments like this. It’s more of a mental thing, too, than something that’s going to instantly cause either’s batting average to rise or make them play error-free defense.

But Anderson, for one, admitted that, yes, this was a learning experience.

“Just really seeing what was going on in the game, talking about certain plays, certain things that were happening during the game,” he said. “Just kind of a learning point and time to hit the rest button a little bit and learn a little bit more, figure out things.

“The game looks a lot easier when you’re sitting there watching. Then when you’re in there, it’s a totally different game. It’s always good to learn something and kind of step back from playing. Today was a good day to sit back and watch and see the other guys go to work.”

The win-loss record and, ultimately, even the statistical output by any player — whether in the team’s long-term plans or not — won’t mean much by the end of the 2018 campaign. The White Sox are instead looking at how the players who are part of the future develop and progress over the course of a big league season.

But there’s little doubt that seeing poor results from the likes of Moncada and Anderson, two players with high hopes and high expectations, can cause some panic throughout the fan base. The White Sox want these guys to be as successful as possible, and they’ve put their faith in Renteria and his staff as good teachers. This is part of that process.

“This is more of making sure that they take a step back, take a breath, allow us to give them some perspective while the game is going on, talk to them a little bit. Allow them to enjoy the game,” Renteria said before Thursday’s game. “Because sometimes you’re going out there and playing, you have a day or two where maybe you’re not having the success that you want to have, you get frustrated and start making it more than it is.

“It’s a long season. You’re going to have good days and bad days. But we do certainly have to compartmentalize a lot of different aspects of the game. It’s required of you to be elite-status type players, and I think this is more just an understanding for them, take a breath … just regroup.”

Prospects Zack Burdi, Luis Basabe to begin rehab stints in White Sox minors

Prospects Zack Burdi, Luis Basabe to begin rehab stints in White Sox minors

Tommy John surgeries have knocked out two top White Sox pitching prospects for 2019 (Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning), but one pitching prospect is set to make a notable step in his return from the surgery.

Zack Burdi will join Single-A Kannapolis on a rehab stint on Monday. Burdi had Tommy John surgery in July of 2017. In his first game action since the surgery, he made seven appearances last August with the Arizona League White Sox (rookie level). The Downers Grove native made five more appearances in the Arizona Fall League before being pulled from the league due to “general fatigue.” He talked about his recovery process on an episode of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

In spring training, Burdi was not invited to major league camp and he wasn’t on a minor league roster when the season began. With this news, he is set to hit another milestone in his return. If all goes well in Kannapolis, it is expected that Burdi will join Triple-A Charlotte, where he was in 2017 when he got hurt.

If Burdi can recapture his stuff, which profiled him as a back end of the bullpen pitcher, he could even join the White Sox sometime in 2019. He has to show he is healthy and back to his old self first though. The 24-year-old was taken with the 26th pick in the 2016 draft and is the No. 16 prospect in the system according to MLB Pipeline.

Another prospect will be joining Burdi in Kannapolis on a rehab assignment. Outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, No. 7 prospect in the system, will also join the Intimidators on Monday. Basabe broke the hamate bone in his left hand during batting practice in spring training. It was initially estimated that he would return in late May, so Basabe appears to be ahead of schedule. The 22-year-old spent the second half of 2019 with Double-A Birmingham and is expected to return there after rehabbing with Kannapolis.

Elsewhere on the White Sox prospect injury watch, Luis Robert left a game on Saturday with soreness in his left hand and is reportedly day-to-day. He was hit by a pitch in the first game of a doubleheader for Single-A Winston-Salem. He made one at-bat in the second game, a leadoff groundout, and then was taken out of the game. He did not play on Sunday.

Robert endured an injury-plagued 2018. He was limited to 50 games, but has been on fire early in 2019. Robert leads the Carolina League in batting average (.475), home runs (6), hits (28), runs (16), on-base percentage (.530) and slugging percentage (.915) and is tied for the league lead in RBIs (18) and stolen bases (7).

 

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Saturday's White Sox-Tigers game postponed due to rain; makeup scheduled for August

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USA TODAY

Saturday's White Sox-Tigers game postponed due to rain; makeup scheduled for August

The White Sox and Tigers were likely to start Saturday's game (12:10 p.m. CT) in a rain delay. Instead, the game has been pushed back altogether.

With rain expected all afternoon in Detroit, Saturday's game has been postponed. A makeup is scheduled for Aug. 6 at 12:10 p.m. as part of a split doubleheader. The originally scheduled game will start at 6:10 p.m. CT.

According to a press release, all paid tickets from Saturday's game will be valid for the first game of the doubleheader.

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