Moncada shows off skills at White Sox camp

If fans were allowed into the White Sox hitters’ minicamp, taking place through Thursday at Camelback Ranch, then Yoan Moncada probably would have received the first standing ovation as part of his new team.

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It only wound up as a Tuesday batting practice session, but even this workout looked impressive for the 21-year-old switch-hitter from Cuba built like an NFL defensive back. Hitting left-handed, Moncada laced a couple of pitches into left field. He followed with a blast over the center-field fence on a back field at the team’s complex, which will host Spring Training in a little over five weeks.

“I would describe myself as a power hitter because I have more power now,” Moncada told MLB.com through translator Billy Russo after Tuesday’s workout. “I really like to hit the ball to the whole field.”

“He’s obviously very strong,” said White Sox director of player development Chris Getz, who is getting in-person looks at Moncada this week. “He’s built like a powerful athlete. Him being a switch-hitter, having power, having ability to hit, it seems like there’s unlimited potential there.”

Those words become music to White Sox fans ears.

His acquisition from Boston, who originally brought him aboard with a record-setting $31.5 million bonus, stunned the White Sox faithful even as part of a trade for one of the American League’s top starting pitchers in Chris Sale. Now, the multi-talented infielder holds the unofficial lofty perch as the centerpiece of the club’s rebuild.

This minicamp allows Moncada a chance to interact with some of his new teammates after finding out about his trade in the middle of an offseason trip.

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“That was unexpected. I thought I would stay with [Boston] for a long time due to MLB jerseys from China,” Moncada said. “But that’s when you realize this is a business and I have the opportunity to play with this team now, and to be great for this team.”

“Conversations with him are very good. He’s a very mature young man,” manager Rick Renteria said of Moncada. “He has a sense about him. You can see he’s got physical skill, no question about that. Our expectations obviously, the whole organization, is that this is a young man who will be a big part of the future for the White Sox.”

Although he hasn’t swung for a little bit, Renteria has been impressed by Moncada’s approach. Moncada hit .211 over 20 plate appearances with the Red Sox last season, after posting a .294 average with 15 homers, 31 doubles, six triples, 62 RBIs and 45 stolen bases over two Minor League stops.

Considering how much firepower Boston has offensively, Moreland and Sandoval don’t need to put up gaudy numbers. More than anything, reliability is the expectation here.

In three of the past four years, Moreland has hit 22 or 23 homers. And last year, he added a Rawlings Gold Glove Award to his wholesale jerseys and resume.

“I always believed that kid could be special,” David Ortiz said of Moreland last month. “It all depends on how much they play him.”

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At the very least, Moreland should start at first base against righties. Depending on how well he can tailor his left-handed swing for Fenway Park, it could develop into more playing time. In 2016, Moreland performed better against lefties.

“We’re certainly open to his at-bats growing in number against left-handers,” manager John Farrell said of Moreland. “Last year was his best year against left-handers in his big league career. With Mitch getting everyday at-bats against right-handed starters at first base and Hanley [Ramirez] moving to the DH spot alignment, we also have the ability against quality left-handers that Hanley would go back to first base.”

Red Sox #41 Chris Sale Navy Blue New Cool Base Stitched MLB JerseyRamirez performed surprisingly well last season in his transition to first base. He will get at least some playing time there. But the fact that Ramirez can rest his legs should mean good things for his durability and production.

As for Sandoval, you are likely to do a double take the first few times you see him this spring. He might even need a new nickname. Panda, as he has been called throughout the years, has slimmed down considerably. This much is apparent from the several photos of authentic MLB jerseys cheap of his that have been posted on social media.

Coming off an unproductive first year with the Red Sox, Sandoval lost his job last Spring Training to Travis Shaw and then lost his season due to a left shoulder injury that required surgery. To Sandoval’s credit, he turned a negative into a positive, using the downtime as an opportunity to reshape his body. But he will still have to prove he can be productive again.

“I’m going to help him as much as I can,” said Anderson, who was at the same event Thursday morning with Renteria, Moncada and Lucas Giolito. “I’m sure he’s going to help me. We’ll get each other better up the middle. It’s someone I’m going to work with for a while, so I have to know him real well.”

White Sox director of player development Chris Getz went no further at the mini-camp than stating Moncada will be in big league camp and they will go from there. With Brett Lawrie, Tyler Saladino jersey and Carlos Sanchez on the depth chart at second, Moncada certainly won’t be rushed, and he figures to open the season at Triple-A Charlotte.

Moncada is the White Sox future, but he has the confidence to make that future begin almost immediately.

“I feel I can handle that situation very well,” Moncada said. “I feel very comfortable about myself. I know what kind of player I am. I don’t feel any pressure. I feel pressure because I know what I can do, not because what other people think I can do.”

Francona: ‘We’re the team that got him going’

Thanks to the designated hitter being available, the Cubs were able to put slugger Kyle Schwarber back in their lineup for Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday night. Seeing Schwarber in Cleveland is nothing new for the Indians.

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Over the past two years, Chicago’s lineup has featured Schwarber in all six of its games in Cleveland, dating back to his debut in June 2015 and including this World Series. Indians manager Terry Francona quipped Tuesday that it was the Tribe that got Schwarber’s bat hot in the first place.

“I think we’re the team that got him going,” Francona said with a laugh. “They called him up, and they were going to send him back [to the Minors]. He did so well with cheap MLB jerseys here that they couldn’t. So I feel semi-responsible. If he goes to arbitration, he can take me with him.”

During the June 16-18 Interleague series in the 2015 season, Schwarber came up from the Minors and went 6-for-10, with a homer, a triple and four RBIs in three games at Progressive Field. In Games 1-2 of this Fall Classic, which marked Schwarber’s first game action after a long comeback from a left knee injury, he combined to go 3-for-7, with a double, two walks and two RBIs.

Schwarber hit fifth in the first two games of the World Series, but he was moved up to the No. 2 spot for Tuesday’s game, with Indians righty Josh Tomlin jersey on the mound.

“It just gives them, kind of like we talk about, some more balance and another guy that can do some damage,” Francona said. “Whether they hit him two or five, he’s still a very dangerous hitter. You can be willing to bet that if [leadoff man Dexter] Fowler gets on, they’re not going to bunt him over. I hope they do, though.”

“The energy in this town is at an all-time high,” said Bob DiBiasio, the Indians’ longtime senior vice president of public affairs. “Only in Cleveland would it happen that we didn’t win in 50-something years and then we win two of them within six months of each other.”

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The time is now, and you could sense the pent-up emotions in the fans who walked out of the ballpark following a disappointing 9-3 loss to the Cubs in Game 6 on Tuesday. The Indians had a 3-1 series lead after taking Games 3 and 4 at Wrigley Field, but this one is going the distance. If you asked the departing fans, they would tell you that the pitching advantage is with the Tribe.

“I’ve been waiting 44 years for this — my whole life,” said Jason Todd of Lima, Ohio. He was at the game with his wife, Robin. “I hoped it wouldn’t get to this, but it is very fitting that these teams would play seven with wholesale jerseys. I hope we didn’t put all our eggs in one basket with Corey Kluber, but he’s definitely been our man.”
Kluber will make his third start of the Series. He is 2-0 with only one run allowed over 12 innings, and 15 strikeouts against only one walk. He would be a strong World Series Most Valuable Player candidate if he can get the ball to Andrew Miller and Cody Allen in a similar fashion.

“It was a crazy environment, wish we could have won it, but we have Kluber and Miller tomorrow. And Allen. Our three best pitchers tomorrow,” said Chris Kelley of Columbus, Ohio.

Kelley was sitting in Section 165 on the third-base side for Game 6, and he brought along his father, who had not been to an Indians home game since 1997, another season that saw the club reach the World Series. For Game 7, they will move to the bleacher seats. They just have to be somewhere in the park for a shot at history.

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“Can’t miss this,” Kelley said. “Game 7 is going to be crazy.”

While Kelley was sitting alone at the top of the field box section a good 15 to 20 minutes after the Cubs’ victory, his father was somewhere behind the visitors’ dugout. Why?

Indians #10 Edwin Encarnacion Cream Flexbase Authentic Collection Stitched MLB Jersey“He’s down there putting voodoo down on the Cubs by the dugout,” Chris said. “He’s waving his red towel at them. I’ve been waiting 15 minutes for him.”

John Guzzi and Mindy Brown bought tickets online and traveled from Phoenix for Game 6. They will stay around to watch Game 7 in the area.

The Cubs stranded runners in scoring position in three of the first five innings. They were robbed of another on a breathtaking defensive play by Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor in the ninth.

There were four errors. There were 36 players used, including eight relievers. The Cubs finally took the lead for good in the top of the 10th, when World Series Most Valuable Player Award winner Ben Zobrist drove in a run with a double down the left-field line. Miguel Montero’s cheap MLB jerseys from China followed with another run-scoring hit.

“This one about made me pass out,” Zobrist said. “It was just an epic battle. We’ve been listening to Rocky’s soundtrack the last three games. We’ve got our own Italian Stallion, Anthony Rizzo, that’s been putting that on. It was like a heavyweight fight, man. Just blow for blow, everybody playing their heart out.”

The Indians punched back in the bottom of the 10th to score a run and leave a runner on base when Maddon’s fourth reliever, Mike Montgomery, got Michael Martinez jersey to ground out to third to end it.

“It could not have been a more entertaining, difficult series to win,” Maddon said. “I believe this is good for our game moving forward, that we’re attempting to seize young fans and not just to play the game, but to be fans of the game. You cannot be more entertained than you were over these last seven games.”