Yoan Moncada confident power will emergeBrian Sandalowon May 16, 2021 at 6:58 pm

Yoan Moncada entered Sunday slugging just .395. | AP Photos

A year removed from a 2020 season that was wrecked due to the lingering effects of COVID-19, Moncada said he’s feeling really good physically.

It’s hard to argue with the .383 on-base percentage third baseman Yoan Moncada carried into Sunday’s game with the Royals. What he and the White Sox are waiting on is the power.

Moncada, who hit 25 homers and slugged .548 in a breakout 2019 season, has just three homers to go with a .395 slugging percentage in 2021. The power, though, is going to come and Moncada won’t force it.

“That’s going to come organically,” he said through a translator. “I don’t think that you can go at every at-bat thinking of hitting a homer, because that’s just going to mess up your approach. I’m going up there trying to hit the ball hard.”

A year removed from a 2020 season that was wrecked due to the lingering effects of COVID-19, Moncada said he’s feeling really good physically.

His desire to win is also clear, which he showed in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 5-1 loss when he dove head-first into first base to try to beat out a ground ball to second. Though the effort highlighted his urge to help the Sox, manager Tony La Russa said the team doesn’t like the dangerous play and he would tell Moncada to try to avoid it in the future.

Moncada agreed it’s not a good idea to dive head-first at first, but mentioned the heat of the moment and the adrenaline running through his body.

The Sox announced Saturday they have reached the 85% threshold of COVID-19 vaccinations, which allows them to relax certain safety protocols. One of them – not wearing masks in the dugout – was especially embraced by La Russa.

“Not having the mask, it was easier to breathe,” La Russa said. “It felt more normal.”

Hitting the 85% milestone doesn’t mean the Sox can just forget about the pandemic. They’ll still have to be careful and mindful of local regulations wherever they go, but they have taken another step toward returning to normal.

“Knock on wood, we are trending in the right direction, not just baseball, but as a country,” La Russa said.

Grandal watch
Yasmani Grandal caught and batted sixth Sunday for the Sox, who have managed his workload this season due a right knee injury suffered in spring training. La Russa said Grandal will also play Monday and possibly Tuesday as well.

Even with the extra caution, Sunday was Grandal’s 26th start behind the plate, which puts him on pace for 108 assuming he stays healthy.

“Between his preparation and the extra work he does in the training room and the work he gets there, it’s gotten us to this point,” La Russa said. “Knock on wood, we keep him in there.”

Engel update
La Russa said the Sox will be releasing something pretty soon about the next steps for outfielder Adam Engel (strained right hamstring). Engel, La Russa said, is making a lot of progress and “looking more like himself.”

“As far as the physical, getting to 100%, he’s either there or very close,” La Russa said.

Who’s No. 2?
Adam Eaton hit second, and La Russa said that will be the case against most right-handed starters like the Royals’ Brady Singer. Sunday was Eaton’s 19th game hitting the second, the most on the team.

Monday: Dallas Keuchel (2-1, 4.53) vs. J.A. Happ (2-1, 4.26), 6:40 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM
Tuesday: Lance Lynn (4-1, 1.30) vs. Michael Piñeda (2-2, 2.79), 6:40 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM Wednesday: Lucas Giolito (2-4, 4.97) vs. Matt Shoemaker (2-4, 6.62 ERA), 12:10 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM

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