Moncada arrives with White Sox with Cuban mentor in Abreu
CHICAGO (AP) Yoan Moncada has a friend from his hometown to show him all about life in the big leagues in his new town.
The first lesson from new Chicago White Sox teammate Jose Abreu, a fellow product of Cienfuegos, Cuba, was on Chicago traffic.
Despite some construction and delays, the road to Guaranteed Rate Field was completed Wednesday for Moncada, Chicago's new second baseman and baseball's top prospect, according to Baseball America.
''I texted (Abreu) and I asked him in the morning if he can pick me up at the airport and he did it,'' Moncada said through a translator. ''I'm happy. I'm trying to enjoy the moment and enjoy this opportunity. I'm in the big leagues right now and this is where I want to be.''
The switch-hitting Moncada, 22, batted sixth on Wednesday and wore No. 10, taking his place next to first baseman Abreu in the infield.
''I've known him since he was a kid,'' Abreu said through a translator, from his locker stall next to Moncada's. ''We were from the same town, and I knew him from that time when I was playing there. He's just an outstanding player. He's got all the tools to be an All-Star.''
Moncada was hitless in two at-bats. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance for the White Sox, then grounded out in the fourth inning and flied out in the sixth.
''I was excited with the way the fans treated me and how they were cheering for me,'' Moncada said. ''I felt good. I executed my plan. I didn't get any base hits, but I hit the ball hard.''
Moncada was acquired from the Boston Red Sox for ace Chris Sale in the offseason and hit .282 with 12 homers, 36 RBIs and 17 stolen bases at Triple-A Charlotte. Boston spent $63 million - including a record $31.5 million bonus - to sign Moncada in 2015 after he left Cuba. Moncada played eight games last season for the Red Sox, batting .211 with four hits in 19 at-bats. He drove in one run.
The White Sox sold about 5,000 tickets Wednesday partly in response to Moncada's call-up from Triple-A Charlotte, according to the team. The fans hung on every pitch of his first plate appearance, where he worked an 0-2 count for a nine-pitch walk.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria admitted there was a special feeling in the air with the arrival of Moncada, the first to come up from a deep crop of young players brought in by general manager Rick Hahn.
''I love his makeup. He's driven,'' Renteria said. ''There are people who see him and he's a very gifted athlete so sometimes he does things very easily that may be misconstrued as being nonchalant, but he can get to balls, he can do things seemingly without any effort.
''He's ready to give you everything he's got. And he knows what we expect, what we ask of them. But we want them to have fun in the big leagues. He's going to be a big part hopefully in where this organization is going.''
Moncada continues a Cuban connection for the franchise that dates to Hall of Famer Minnie Minoso and continued with the $26 million signing of 19-year-old outfielder Luis Robert earlier this summer. Abreu hopes to help Moncada along the way just as Cuban players Alexei Ramirez and Adrian Nieto did for him when he arrived in 2014.
Hahn has unloaded pitcher Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs and outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington, and continued late Tuesday night when third baseman Todd Frazier and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle were dealt to the New York Yankees. The White Sox acquired a prospect package that included outfielders Blake Rutherford and Tito Polo, pitcher Ian Clarkin and veteran reliever Tyler Clippard.
Renteria said Clippard, who was traded for the fourth time in less than three seasons, will fill the closing role vacated by Robertson. Clippard, a right-hander, is 1-5 with a 4.95 ERA in 40 games for the Yankees.
Right-handed pitcher Brad Goldberg also joined the White Sox to help in the bullpen. He allowed four runs in 1/3 of an inning his only outing with Chicago last month.
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