Facing long recovery from shoulder surgery, Madrigal has time to review rookie season with Sox
Everyone makes them in major-league baseball. The players that end up having successful careers learn from their blunders, stay positive and press forward.
Nick Madrigal fits that profile.
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Oregon State, Madrigal was ticketed for some finishing touches at Class AAA Charlotte back in spring training.
When COVID-19 shut down play two weeks before the regular season was originally scheduled to open, Madrigal went into a holding pattern like everyone else.
Play began for real four months later, on July 24, and Madrigal was in the lineup as the White Sox's starting second baseman a week after that.
His first mistake came in an Aug. 24 game at Milwaukee, when he made a bad decision and tried going from first to third on a single up the middle.
Not only was Madrigal easily thrown out, he separated his left shoulder and was sidelined for more than three weeks.
After Monday's bombshell announcements that manager Rick Renteria and long-time pitching coach Don Cooper were let go, Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Madrigal had shoulder surgery last week and is looking at 5 to 6 months of recovery.
As he heals up over the winter, Madrigal will have plenty of time to review his rookie season with the White Sox.
He had some other youthful moments running the bases and playing defense, including a costly mistake in Game 2 of the playoffs.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning, Madrigal muffed a Matt Olson groundball for a 2-run error. The White Sox wound up losing to Oakland 5-3.
Madrigal made another error in the game and had another baserunning mistake, but he also went 2-for-4 and sparked a rally in the ninth inning.
"I was hoping to come back and win that game so that little miscue in the beginning didn't matter," the 23-year-old infielder said. "I understand that I can't get down because the ball's going to find you no matter what. If you have your head down, probably the next play's going to come right back to you, so I understood that.
"I was frustrated, but I understood that the team needed me and just try to get right back out there."
Madrigal is the type of player that is going to put the work in and improve his defense and baserunning.
His bat is already major-league quality.
Not only did Madrigal hit a sturdy .340/.376/.369 in his first season with the Sox, he tied for second in the major leagues with a .321 average with two strikes and struck out only 7 times in 109 plate appearances.
The 5-foot-8, 175-pounder is positioned to be the White Sox's starting second baseman for the next five years and beyond.
"It's exciting," Madrigal said. "For my first year being a part of it, it's pretty special. I'm just trying to take it all in."
Facing such a long recovery from shoulder surgery, the Sox are prepared for Madrigal still being sidelined when spring training hopefully begins in mid-February.
If he is a month or so behind, versatile veteran Leury Garcia is the obvious in-house option to step in.
Garcia missed nearly two months with a torn ligament in his left thumb this season, but he is reliable with the bat and glove. Garcia has a reasonable $3.5 million club option for 2021 with a $250,000 buyout.
Danny Mendick was optioned back to Schaumburg in mid-September and wasn't on the White Sox's playoff roster, but he is a solid utility infielder and more than capable of holding down second base until Madrigal is ready to return.