Sox Insider

Nick Madrigal finally shows off home-run swing for Sox

Sox Insider

It doesn't really matter how many home runs Nick Madrigal hits.

The White Sox didn't draft him No. 4 overall in 2018 to sock a ton of dingers. They drafted him to make contact, to get hits, to score runs, to play defense. Let the home-run hitters — basically every other player in Major League Baseball these days — hit the home runs.

But Madrigal felt really, really good Monday night. He couldn't even wait till the game was over to unleash the smile that followed his first career homer.

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"I couldn’t help but smile," Madrigal said. "I tried to act like I hit a million of those before, kind of stone-cold face, but I couldn’t hold it in."

That emotional reaction was likely sparked more by his teammates going nuts in the dugout than it was the joy of finally knocking one over the fence, which he did to lead off the third inning of Monday's 16-4 obliteration of the Minnesota Twins.

Whether his power numbers ever mattered or not, it has been a frequent topic of conversation, when Madrigal would finally add a four-base hit to his stat sheet. He's a rarity in today's game, where everyone's expected to be looking for launch angle and exit velocity. The Oregon State product is busy trying to find ways to smack balls through holes in the infield and dribble base hits to where defenders can't reach them quickly enough.


That contrast has made it difficult for some fans to see his value, and his lack of power has been viewed as a bug. In reality, it's more likely a feature. But he hasn't shied away from expressing confidence that he's had a home-run swing in him, that the power would one day show.

But as far as the desire? It was undoubtedly real, but it's also apparently only limited to one such hit.

"I know I wasn’t going to go the whole season without hitting one, but it’s nice to get the first one," Madrigal said. "I’m not too worried about it now. I just needed one.

"If I didn’t hit one for the rest of the year, I feel like I’m still contributing to the team in a lot of different ways. But I mean, it’s nice to get at least one out of the way.

"I know there’s always going to be talk out there from people. Even If I just hit one, people will say things no matter what. I think it’s just a nice feeling for myself to get at least one."

Madrigal's got plenty of big plans for his major league career, and he never said how many of the 3,000-plus hits he's hoping to rack up need to leave the yard. Indeed he's right that his home-run total won't be the thing that defines him, not this season, not in his career.

Not that it's been all sunshine and lollipops in the non-homer department, though, and certainly the guy who was itching to show everyone what he could do at full strength is still hoping for bigger and better things in his first full big league season. Ahead of Monday's game, an adjustment at the plate, made with the assistance of White Sox hitting coaches Frank Menechino and Howie Clark, might have helped. Madrigal had three hits and came a triple shy of the cycle.

Of course, everyone in a gray jersey was knocking the ball around — and out of — Target Field on Monday.

But for once, Madrigal got to play slugger. And the hero's welcome he received in the dugout will likely end up more meaningful than the hit itself, an example of the camaraderie and clubhouse culture that will dictate far more about the White Sox championship chances than whether their second baseman can pick up his home-run pace.

"They always give me a hard time, saying, 'When are you going to hit one?' joking with me," Madrigal said. "I knew they would be all excited. I saw them all happy. It’s just a good feeling seeing that from your teammates and knowing that they have your back."

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