CHICAGO – When he trots out to the outfield, particularly centerfield, in his his White Sox career, the goal is rather straight-forward.
“At the end of the day, just trying to make as many plays for your guy as you can, keep him in the game as long as possible,” said Adam Engel of his goal when he takes the field for the White Sox.
What’s made the outfielder a little different is the flair which he’s added to time in the outfield, particularly his abilty to take away a potential home run from his opponent. There’s a reason that Engel earned the “Man of Steal” moniker and in 2018 was named a finalist for the American League Gold Glove Award in centerfield.
So it was fitting that his return to the lineup for the first time in 2021 after an injury involved his signature play.
In the fifth inning of Sunday’s game against the Tigers, Engel reached up over the right-centerfield wall and snagged what would have been a solo homer for Niko Goodrum. It would keep Detroit off the scoreboard in what would end up being a 3-0 White Sox victory to take the series.
“It’s really cool. Anytime you get to make a play for your pitcher, it’s a special play,” said Engel of the catch. “As a defender, it’s your job just to go out there and make your pitcher feel comfortable. Let him know that if he does his job and throws strikes, we’re gonna do our job and play good defense behind him.”
They did that in Cease’s seven shutout inning where he also had ten strikeouts in the victory. Yet the first out of the ballgame might have been the most satisfying to Engel, since his charging catch on a liner by Akil Baddoo.
It was quite similar to the play in which he injured his hamstring on March 20th in a spring training game against the Indians at Camelback Ranch.
“I’ve tried really hard not to think about the injury in general, and especially the play that I made it on,” said Engel. “I’m just in there trying to make plays. It is nice, though, to make that play. I think, looking back, it was a very, very similar play that I tore my hamstring on in the spring.
“So it was good to get in there and make the play.”
The one he made in the fifth inning wasn’t bad, too.