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Alec Hansen joined Micker Adolfo and Jake Burger on the list of gutting prospect injuries when he felt soreness in his right forearm during a bullpen session. He’s scratched for the rest of spring, but Rick Hahn said the MRI showed no damage.
‘‘Everything is fine with Alec,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said. ‘‘Anytime a guy expresses [soreness], we understandably — especially this time of year — err on side of caution and shut him down, get him looked at.’’ […]
Hahn said Hansen was sent for the MRI ‘‘to clear the general manager’s mind, not his, because of the way things have gone the first few weeks.’’
Then there’s Eloy Jimenez, who has been limited to one spring training plate appearance because of knee tendinitis. He’s supposedly progressing, taking batting practice and running the bases on Wednesday, but it’s slow going for an injury that didn’t sound so serious at the outset.
With this cloud hanging over Camelback Ranch, Luis Robert made his first spring start. That felt a little like ignoring a trend and tempting fate, especially when he came to bat in the eighth inning in an attempt to survive an entire game on March 7.
Robert rewarded the Sox handsomely for sticking with him.
He came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded facing Jackson Stephens, who’d battled both bad luck (two soft singles) himself (two walks) during the inning. Stephens tried to get ahead with a first-pitch slider, but it was a bit of a spinner. The question was whether the speed would fool him enough, but nope:
Robert said he was looking for a slider, and he acted like it. He kept his hands back long enough that, when he swatted the pitch, neither the direction nor the distance were in doubt. The grand slam gave the White Sox their first lead of the day, and Brad Goldberg closed it out for a 14-12 victory.
It had been an unremarkable day for Robert beforehand. In his first four plate appearances, hee grounded out to short, flied out to left, drew a tough walk and stole a base, then struck out looking.
He also got a workout in center thanks to an ugly outing by Miguel Gonzalez. In the first inning alone, he caught a sac fly, chased down a a pair of singles and came up just short on his attempt to flag down Phillip Ervin’s drive to the deepest part of the park.
Luis Robert was so close to being Luis Robber at the center field wall. pic.twitter.com/rX4d2DESMw
— Jim Margalus (@SoxMachine) March 7, 2018
He came through with a catch to in the third inning, running down a Nick Senzel drive in deep right center without having to think about leaving his feet.
There was a lot to like, because the word “unremarkable” is its own kind of praise for a 20-year-old against more advanced players. The homer was the second ball he lifted to left, as he was able to get around on an inside-corner Homer Bailey fastball and hoist it just short of the warning track.
— Jim Margalus ? (@SoxMachine) March 8, 2018
On his walk, he swung over a 1-1 changeup from Amir Garrett to get into a tough count. Nevertheless, he hung in there to take a slider and a high fastball, fouled off a backdoor slider, then laid off another low slider for ball four.
So there was a lot to like from Robert even before he hit a game-winning grand slam. I wouldn’t stop him if he wanted to deliver more such hits in the future, though.
* * *[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ad Robert looked more like a normal 20-year-old in that situation, Yoan Moncada’s big day would have easily been the day’s biggest story.
Moncada had stumbled out of the gate this spring, starting 1-for-15 with three walks and seven strikeouts. Those struggles were magnified because Rick Renteria announced plans to bat Moncada leadoff, at least early on. Normally a player entering his first full season would be allowed to wobble in relative peace at this point in the year, but the numbers raised the question whether Renteria was putting too much on his plate.
Two games later, Moncada is hitting a leadoff man’s .273/.407/.318 after going 5-for-6 with two walks in games against Oakland and Cincinnati. He was perfect against the Reds, and not just at the plate. Sure, he went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk, but he also made a couple of demanding plays to his left, and this incredible play to his right:
Moncada's made a couple of tough stabs to his left, and now here he is to his right. pic.twitter.com/wG0A9hqG11
— Jim Margalus (@SoxMachine) March 7, 2018
So he’s fine. He still may struggle as he makes a full lap around the league, but at least you can stand down for now.