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3 takeaways from Chicago White Sox camp, including a trick up Yoán Moncada’s sleeve


GLENDALE, Ariz. — It’s been a relatively healthy spring for the Chicago White Sox, except for some hits to their bullpen depth.

Tuesday afternoon the team announced right-handed reliever Jimmy Lambert has been experiencing lingering shoulder issues. He will get a second opinion with Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Thursday in Los Angeles.

Lambert had a 5.26 ERA in 35 appearances (one start) last season.

Before Tuesday’s Cactus League game against the Cincinnati Reds, the Sox optioned pitcher Bailey Horn to Triple-A Charlotte. With the move, the Sox have 51 players remaining in camp: 29 pitchers, four catchers, nine infielders and nine outfielders.

Here are three more takeaways from camp.

1. Bunting is a trick under the sleeve for Yoán Moncada.

Yoán Moncada singled to right field in the first inning of Saturday’s Cactus League game against the San Diego Padres in Peoria, Ariz.

The next time up, the third baseman singled to center.

Moncada noticed Padres third baseman Graham Pauley playing deep before his third at-bat and executed a perfect bunt for his third hit of the day.

“That’s one of the tricks I have under my sleeve,” Moncada said through an interpreter Monday. “I know I haven’t shown that much, but I think now is the time to start showing that. That’s something I’m comfortable doing.”

Moncada has three bunt hits in his big-league career. He described the option of bunting as “a weapon I can use and display.”

White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada wraps a towel around his head in the dugout during a spring training game against the Padres on Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada wraps a towel around his head in the dugout during a spring training game against the Padres on Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Manager Pedro Grifol said while many factors come into play while determining when to bunt, “it’s good to have in the bag.”

Grifol said Moncada is “really good handling the bat,” from both sides of the plate, one of the reasons he’s the likely No. 2 hitter in the Sox lineup.

“He’s been excellent,” Grifol said Tuesday. “His mentality and the way he’s going about it (and) the work he’s putting in.”

Moncada is hitting .360 this spring (9-for-25) with five walks in 11 games.

“A pretty damn good two-hole hitter if he puts his mind to it, which we’re going to make sure his mind is right,” Grifol said.

Moncada enjoys that spot in the order.

“I’ve always liked to be in the second spot, I feel comfortable there,” he said. “It’s more natural for me.”

2. Michael Kopech continues his quest for consistency this spring.

White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech throws against the Dodgers on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech throws against the Dodgers on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Sox starter Michael Kopech was a pitch away from a scoreless first inning against the Colorado Rockies on Monday at Camelback Ranch.

But Rockies first baseman Michael Toglia hit a 1-2 pitch for a two-run home run. Sean Bouchard followed with a solo home run.

“Being able to finish guys is huge,” Kopech said after the outing. “That comes down to trusting my stuff is going to do what it needs to do instead of just trying to land something for a strike.”

Kopech allowed four runs on four hits with two strikeouts and two walks in 2 1/3 innings in the 7-2 loss.

“I was getting ahead decent with my fastball,” he said. “I didn’t have much command for my breaking stuff (Monday) and when I landed a couple, I ended up overemphasizing throwing them for strikes and left them kind of in the middle of the plate. Couple of them got hit a long ways.

“After that, started nibbling a little bit, put myself in a tough situation and had to grind out of it a little bit and didn’t do a great job of it.”

Grifol said Kopech was “really aggressive at times and really tentative at times.”

“That’s not a combination you can ride,” Grifol said. “He’s aware of it, he knows he has to live in the middle where he’s aggressive but under control.”

Kopech has a 7.71 ERA in three spring starts. He has 10 strikeouts but also six walks in seven innings.

“I’m happy with being able to get my velo back up when I want to, kind of stay within myself when I don’t need to uptick on velo,” Kopech said. “I’ve seen some good shapes with my breaking stuff, just a matter of being consistent with it. What I’m having a tough time with is inconsistency and if I can find a bit more consistency, I think I’m back to who I am.

“Haven’t really got to show that this spring, yet.”

3. John Brebbia is ‘making a lot of progress’ following a right calf strain.

Reliever John Brebbia has a live batting practice session scheduled for Wednesday at Camelback Ranch as he continues to make his way back from a right calf strain. The right-hander, who signed a one-year deal during the offseason, suffered the injury on Feb. 22.

“He’s making a lot of progress,” Grifol said Monday. “I went out there (Monday morning) and saw him do his little shuttle run — any time you spend time with him, whether it’s one minute or 10 minutes, it’s always entertaining — he was running the shuttles and telling me how he could be a point guard.

“I love his personality, I love his demeanor, the way he goes about it and I’ve seen him pitch, I’ve seen him on video, I’ve seen him live. That’s the kind of makeup that you want.”



LaMond Pope , 2024-03-13 02:04:38

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