White Sox

Yoan Moncada is off to a nice start in the Cactus League

Yoan Moncada is off to a nice start in the Cactus League

I know. It's only spring training.

Not only is it only spring training, it's only been two spring training games.

But while the sample size is admittedly microscopically small, Yoan Moncada is off to a nice start in Cactus League play after struggling mightily at the plate during his first full season in the bigs in 2018.

Moncada started his spring game action with two hits, including a double, Saturday against the Oakland Athletics. Monday, he banged out another couple of hits, including a triple, against the San Francisco Giants. He drove in a run and scored a run in each game.

We can conclude he feasts against teams from the Bay Area. (Hey, there's actually some truth to that: He slashed .290/.353/.645 with three homers and 13 RBIs in seven games against the A's last season.)

But seriously, this is what the White Sox are hoping to see. Obviously they would like just plain improvement after Moncada struck out 217 times last season (one of the highest single-season strikeout totals in baseball history) and slashed just .235/.315/.400.

But they also see potential offensive improvement as a result of the position switch they're undertaking this spring, moving Moncada from second base to third base. It might seem those two things wouldn't be connected, but Rick Renteria has said multiple times during the first few weeks of spring training that the increased focus Moncada needs to master the hot corner could lead to increased focus in the other facet of his game, leading to better results at the dish.

"We’re hoping, honestly, that some of the focus that he’s got to take into re-acclimating himself to playing third base will be also part of expanding his offensive capabilities," Renteria said. "And by the way, if you look at — and I know this is going to sound crazy — if you look at the metrics of his hitting, there was a lot of good things in his offensive game last year. I know we focus on the strikeouts and things of that nature, but there were a lot of good things that went on with his ability to have a good eye, balls in play, his batting average was off the charts.

"So there are a lot of things that will continue to improve with him. And I think he will continue to understand, without getting himself outside of that zone that he understands so very well, there’s situations that he will continue to embrace and understand when to manage certain at-bats in different ways. Those are the things that he’s going to gain from experience and knowledge, and I think that last year’s season definitely has served him very, very well in terms of making his adjustments this coming season."

Whether four hits in two spring training games are a positive result from the move to third, a result of Moncada's much-discussed offseason work or just four hits in two meaningless spring training games, it's a good thing to see.

Time will tell if it carries over into the season and into the summer.

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Rick Hahn 'intrigued' by offseason talks White Sox are involved in

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USA TODAY

Rick Hahn 'intrigued' by offseason talks White Sox are involved in

The baseball offseason is moving at a quicker pace than recent years, and White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is among those happy to see that.

Hahn and the White Sox contributed to that quick start to the offseason by signing Yasmani Grandal on Nov. 21. He said he prefers that in an interview with Bruce Levine and Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score on Saturday.

Hahn also gave an update on the team’s offseason.

“We still have work to do, but at the same time we’re obviously quite pleased to have added Yasmani Grandal, much to no one’s surprise bringing back Jose Abreu and we’re intrigued by some of the talks we have going on right now,” Hahn said. “Obviously you can’t convert on everything, a point that was publicly driven home this past week, but at the same time we know that regardless of whether we convert on one specific target or not, there are still a lot of reasons to be excited based on the guys we currently have, much less what we may add in the coming weeks.”

The comment about being unable to convert on everything is surely a reference to Zack Wheeler signing with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Hahn didn’t give any hints as to what the White Sox are working on, but he did say he prefers the speed of this offseason.

“We’d certainly prefer to do things sooner rather than later,” Hahn said. “That’s generally true regardless of the time of year.”

If Hahn wants to get things done quickly, it would make sense that the winter meetings could be a time of White Sox activity. Hahn wasn’t biting on that.

“There’s nothing magical about getting a deal done Tuesday at the winter meetings,” Hahn said. “It creates a little more buzz perhaps and fulfills some expectations within the fanbase and the media.

“A guy is not going to have any less impact on your team if you acquire him Dec. 20 vs. Dec. 12.”

Hahn also gave updates on various current players on the team:

  • Yasmani Grandal has been studying up on White Sox pitchers and how he can help the young pitchers develop.

“This guy’s No. 1 goal and No. 1 priority is to make the pitchers better," Hahn said. "He’s texting me two, three times a week still with stuff he had seen on our guys and conversations he’s had with our guys about how he thinks we’re going to be able to get them better in the coming months.”

  • Hahn was asked if the White Sox would add another middle infielder to provide cover until Nick Madrigal comes up. He didn't rule it out, but cited Leury Garcia and Danny Mendick as capable of helping out. Hahn has previously said he expects Madrigal to be up for most of the 2020 season.
  • Nothing new here, but Hahn said Michael Kopech will enter spring training "without restriction" and will have "some innings management" throughout the season. Kopech missed 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery late in the 2018 season.
  • Carlos Rodon's timeline to return from Tommy John surgery hasn't changed. Hahn said they will re-evaluate him in April to see where he is after spring training. He is still tentatively expected to return in late July or early August.

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Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Depending on which report you choose to believe, the White Sox could be on the verge of filling the void in their outfield with one of the bigger names on this winter’s free-agent market.

Dominican reporter Frank Castillo tweeted Saturday that the White Sox will sign Marcell Ozuna, planning to announce the free-agent deal Monday.

Well, that was followed up by a report from The Score’s Bruce Levine, who said the White Sox are not about to sign Ozuna.

So there’s that.

The White Sox were connected to Ozuna earlier this offseason, as well as more recently, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last week that the team had interest in Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but were waiting to hear on the decisions of Ozuna and fellow free agent Nicholas Castellanos first.

Ozuna turned heads with his fantastic 2017 season for the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Since being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozuna hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs in two seasons.

The White Sox have a pressing need in right field, making it little surprise that they’ve been tied to numerous options, including Ozuna, Castellanos and Joc Pederson. Ozuna, though, exclusively played left field in St. Louis. Were the White Sox to add him, would they insist he play right field? They’ve expressed little to no interest in moving Eloy Jimenez out of left field.

It’s rumor season, and there should be plenty more of them with the Winter Meetings starting Monday in San Diego. The White Sox are expected to continue the aggressive approach they’ve displayed already this winter with the signing of Yasmani Grandal and their reported high bid to Zack Wheeler, who took less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.

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