Chicago White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada returned to the lineup -- and his ideal spot in it -- on Thursday.
After resting for one game and enjoying Wednesday's scheduled day off, Moncada is eager to help the White Sox secure a winning homestand that continues with Friday's visit from the Toronto Blue Jays.
If he happens to bat leadoff or in the bottom half of the order against Toronto right-hander Aaron Sanchez (3-4, 3.75 ERA), so be it. Still, Moncada enjoys the perch of the No. 2 hole most, as his nomadic turns through the lineup had led some to asking.
"I do whatever the team needs me to do, and I don't really pay too much attention to that," Moncada told reporters on Thursday. "But I would prefer to hit in the second spot. I can see a few more pitches being in the second spot instead of the first one."
Both teams figure to field somewhat different lineups than fans saw in the series opener, a 4-2 Chicago win in which four White Sox pitchers combined on a two-hitter.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria rested shortstop Tim Anderson on Thursday, noting that the American League Player of the Month for April was experiencing some general soreness after playing 19 games in 19 days, including a recent weekend series on the artificial surface of Toronto's Rogers Centre.
"Timmy's a little ginger, but he should be fine," Renteria told reporters on Tuesday. "They're all barking a little bit, but that goes with playing so many games in a row, and the last cherry on top is playing on turf. It beats you up a little bit."
Given the length of the series and the Blue Jays' own crunch of games -- including three separate trips to the state of California in under four weeks -- it's possible Toronto could give recently recalled infielder Richard Urena a start on Friday.
Urena returned to the big leagues before Thursday's game, as the Blue Jays optioned left fielder Teoscar Hernandez to Triple-A Buffalo.
Hernandez struck out four times in Wednesday's matinee loss in San Francisco and was hitting .189 in 127 at-bats, including a 2-for-20 slide in his past seven games.
"He hasn't looked good lately," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters on Wednesday. "I was hoping he would come out of it. For sure his confidence is down. Everybody can tell by looking at him."
Urena spent most of the season's first month with the Blue Jays, batting .313 with three doubles in 32 at-bats.
Both starting pitchers are facing familiar opposition. Sanchez, who has suffered defeats in three successive starts, lost to the White Sox on Sunday after yielding five runs on nine hits in six innings. In five games (three starts) vs. Chicago, Sanchez is 0-1 (a 5-1 loss at home on Sunday) with a 4.35 ERA.
Ivan Nova (2-3, 6.29 ERA) is set to get the call for Chicago. Despite holding the highest ERA in baseball among 86 pitchers who qualify, Nova has shined lately, allowing only two runs in his past 13 innings. He defeated the Blue Jays on Saturday behind six innings of one-run ball and is 6-7 overall with a 5.38 ERA vs. Toronto in 18 games (16 starts).
--Field Level Media
Moncada aims to keep momentum going for White Sox vs. Blue Jays
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