CHICAGO – Right away, there was a normal feel around third base for the White Sox on Monday evening.
In the first inning, Yoan Moncada ended the top of the frame with a smooth fielding of a grounder and throw to first for the out. In the bottom half, he picked up a base hit off Yu Darvish to bring in the first of five runs in the inning which led to a victory over the Cubs.
“I feel good, I feel good today. I appreciate the chance that Ricky (Renteria) gave me to play five innings,” said Moncada on Monday. “I’ve been working to get ready and I think today was a good day for me.”
It was the first test the third baseman passed in his road towards being in the team’s lineup to start the 2020 season after his bout with COVID-19 earlier this month.
“He’s feeling good. He says he feels better than he thought he would feel,” said Renteria of Moncada. “Obviously he looked very well last night in the ballgame; moving around, reacting very well. Had some nice at-bats. We’ll just continue to roll along positively, keeping positive thoughts.”
Renteria had a big one during his news conference on Tuesday – the fact that he believes that Moncada is on track to start opening day for the White Sox against the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday.
It’s a boost for the club hoping to make an impact in the quick 60-game season, considering Moncada’s improved play in 2019. Sporting a career-high slash line of .315/.367/.548, he hit 25 homers while also driving in 79 RBIs while cutting his strikeouts from 217 to 154.
That’s why the White Sox were eager to give a new contract to Moncada, who along with Michael Kopech were the first major prospects acquired in the rebuilding trade of Chris Sale to Boston. The five-year, $70 million contract keeps the third baseman in Chicago as the team’s core finally comes together after three difficult rebuilding seasons.
Like Renteria, Moncada shares the hope that he’ll be ready to go for opening day. He is in the lineup for the White Sox last exhibition game against the Brewers on Wednesday night.
“I think on a good path for that, but i just need to keep working and keep doing the stuff that Ive been doing,” said Moncada of opening day. “So far, I feel pretty good right now.”
So are the White Sox seeing No. 10 in the lineup again.