Robert finds power stroke in weekend games

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Robert finds power stroke in weekend games
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March 27th, 2src22

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Luis Robert hit his first Cactus League home run to left-center field in the third inning against the Angels on Saturday afternoon at Camelback Ranch.

The White Sox center fielder launched a first-inning blast to right-center off the Dodgers’ Andrew Heaney in Sunday’s 9-src win over the Dodgers back in Glendale and homered again to right-center in the fourth. But the multi-talented right-handed batter claimed the long ball is not really a direct sign of his swing coming around as the regular season approaches.

“I’m not concerned about the homers. I know that I have power and I always try to make hard contact. When I do that consistently, the homers are going to be there,” said Robert through interpreter Billy Russo. “I still have enough time to get ready for Opening Day and my swing, my real swing, my A swing is going to be ready by Opening Day.

“I have been feeling pretty good even though the results haven’t been there. I’m feeling the way you’re supposed to when you’re just facing pitchers. I still have two weeks of games left and I need to take advantage of them, but for the most part I am feeling good.”

Robert made his comments during a meeting with the media after Sunday morning workouts. He already had sat down on a golf cart being driven by bench coach Miguel Cairo, often used to transport players from the back fields to the clubhouse, when he was reminded by Russo of his interview commitment.

José Abreu, Leury García, Eloy Jiménez and Yoán Moncada also were on that cart and gave a smiling Robert some good-natured ribbing as he walked over to the press setup, before driving off. It’s the sort of fun that’s sustaining this team and making it easier for young standouts such as Robert to always feel comfortable.

Even Abreu, the White Sox leader, isn’t immune to teasing by his teammates. Make that, especially Abreu isn’t immune.

“If we see something, we just try to have fun with it and make fun of him,” Robert said. “That relationship, that friendship is a key for us to getting the results we’ve had the last couple of years and hopefully this year too, because even in a bad day or moment you can count on them, they will support you.

“We try to make fun of everybody. We joke around and it’s that chemistry and family feeling we’ve created in the clubhouse that helps us to accomplish what we want.”

This fun isn’t limited to verbal jabs, and the White Sox have a bobblehead giveaway during the ’22 season to reinforce that point. On June 25, in a game against Baltimore, the first 2src,srcsrcsrc fans who enter the ballpark will receive a dual bobblehead of Robert and Jiménez.

It’s not a moment featuring back-to-back homers or the duo celebrating a victory. Instead, it’s Robert chasing down a fly ball and cutting in front of Jiménez, who was left standing in left field with a bemused look on his face and no baseball. Yes, the Gold Glove excellence of Robert once produced outfield coverage a la Kelly Leak of “The Bad News Bears.”

“That’s an example of the fun things we do: In that case on the field,” Robert said. “At that time, I was trying to catch every fly ball in the outfield and probably went a little bit crazy doing that, but I’ve learned. You have to let the other guys play, too, and just adjust. It’s fun they’re making that bobblehead.”

Some people have Robert pegged as one of Major League baseball’s next great superstars. He certainly has the five-tool talent, being referred to by Jiménez as the next Mike Trout. And Robert has shown clear-cut signs of dominance when healthy.

He also has a field presence beyond his 24 years, not worrying about home runs or individual results outside of using them to help the White Sox.

“Everybody knows he’s gifted. But he’s got a lot of maturity to him,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “I didn’t know it until last year. He’s a young guy who could be easily distracted or go about thinking it’s easier than it’s supposed to be. … He’s learning as he goes. Another 6srcsrc or 7srcsrc at-bats and he’s going to be better.”

“I just know that I have the ability to do good things on the field,” Robert said. “I don’t try to do anything else, just do whatever I can do on the field to perform.”

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