Renteria, White Sox Working Through Lineup Options

By 670 The Score
(670 The Score) The White Sox believe they have a leadoff hitter of the future in center fielder Luis Robert, who signed a long-term contract extension on Jan. 2. 

That deal has put the 22-year-old Robert in line to be in the Opening Day lineup, but it doesn't mean that he'll be at the top of the order. White Sox manager Rick Renteria is still working through possibilities for his lineup in 2020 and indicated he may wait on putting a rookie like Robert into a primary spot in the batting order.

"He's a young man who's had tremendous numbers in the minor leagues and certainly is a high-end-potential-type player," Renteria said on the Mully & Haugh Show on Friday. "Hugely impactful, very much like (Yoan) Moncada and any number of the young guys that we have. But that at least gives me an opportunity to at least be able to think about being able to hit him down lower in the lineup, but it doesn't preclude me from hitting him at the top.

"We'll do the best that we can to put them in the best position possible and hopefully be able to have the success that we wanted to have since we started this trek."

In seasons past, Renteria has often utilized lineups that trust established veterans in key lineup spots while putting younger players in spots down the order. Shortstop Tim Anderson hit seventh in the White Sox lineup 31 times in 2019, when he won the American League batting title. He also hit sixth nine times, so he hit in the bottom half of the order in nearly one-third of his games in 2019. While he was often the No. 2 hitter, third baseman Yoan Moncada also batted fifth 19 times in a strong 2019 season.

With the additions of veterans in catcher Yasmani Grandal, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and outfielder Nomar Mazara, Renteria will have the option of placing Robert and second-year outfielder Eloy Jimenez in the bottom half of the order if he wants.

"The makeup of the roster as it's starting to develop right now gives us an opportunity to slot guys that are maybe breaking in down a little lower in the lineup, to give them an opportunity to take a breath and watch the other guys that have been around doing what they've been doing and allow them to have an opportunity to transition and to seeing these guys have the success that they've had over their careers and learn from them and still contribute," Renteria said. 

"They're young, but they're hungry and they've been working."

It seems a formality that Robert will make the White Sox roster out of spring training, but even so, the team wants him to earn that right. And while Robert has the makeup of a leadoff hitter, Renteria and the White Sox won't make any firm lineup decisions until games begin.

They're just ready to get spring training going.

"Just the fact that we're able to talk about this right now is exciting," Renteria said. "I think everybody should be excited. I'm excited. 

"Everyone should be now looking at the next phase of the South Side."