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Sports

Madrigal makes quiet big-league debut for White Sox

The White Sox's Nick Madrigal is tagged out by Royals catcher Salvador Perez as he tries to score on a single hit by Leury Garcia in the seventh inning Friday in Kansas City, Mo.
The White Sox's Nick Madrigal is tagged out by Royals catcher Salvador Perez as he tries to score on a single hit by Leury Garcia in the seventh inning Friday in Kansas City, Mo.

Another big piece of what the White Sox hope is a bright future core made his major league debut Friday.

Nick Madrigal, their 2018 first-round pick, played second base and batted ninth in a 3-2 win at Kansas City.

Madrigal went 0 for 3, reaching on an error in the seventh and getting thrown out at the plate trying to score on a single by Leury García.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Madrigal said. “I’ve imagined this moment since I was a little kid. It looks a little different with the stadiums empty, but it’s still a dream come true and something I’ve worked extremely hard for.”

The Sox picked Madrigal fourth overall out of Oregon State. Known for his elite contact skills at the plate, Madrigal entered the season rated by MLB.com and Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in the Sox organization. He also is ranked by MLB.com as the No. 2 second baseman and No. 40 overall prospect in baseball.

That kind of pedigree might explain why Madrigal was disappointed he didn’t start the season in the Sox’s lineup instead of being sent to the Schaumburg training facility.

“I felt I could help the team win from the beginning, and that was one of my goals, to be there from the first game, and it just didn’t work out,” Madrigal said. “That night they told me I was going down I was a little mad, but the next day I locked in and was fine. It’s not my style to pout and be angry for more than a couple days. I was hoping the time would come soon, and sure enough it was just a couple days.”

Sox manager Ricky Renteria said Madrigal was so upset about not making the opening day roster he left without shaking his hand.

“He just turned around and walked out,” Renteria said. “But that’s the competitor. When you see a player react a certain way, you get it. It’s one of the things you love about a competitive nature. He’s a fighter.”

The Sox made room for Madrigal by designating right-handed pitcher Kelvin Herrera. Signed for $18 million last year, Herrera had a 6.54 ERA in 59 appearances since the beginning of last year.

The 5-foot-8 Madrigal batted a combined .311/.377/.414 with 27 doubles, four home runs, 55 RBIs, 76 runs and 35 stolen bases over 120 games between Class A Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in 2019.

He found out Thursday after practice in Schaumburg that he would be joining the Sox on Friday. He called his parents, texted his brothers and caught a plane to Kansas City, a flight he said wasn’t that crowded in this time when every precaution is needed to keep COVID-19 cases out of baseball.

Madrigal will wear No. 1, a number he said he had as a kid growing up watching San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s games.

Madrigal said he watched quite a bit of baseball on TV this past week including almost every pitch of the Sox during their 2-4 start.

“It was tough,” Madrigal said. “I was following along like a super fan out there. It was tough not being there on the field with the team. I tried to stay positive through it all and hoped a day would come soon I could join the team.”

Royals starter Kris Bubic also made his debut Friday, having never pitched above Class A. Bubic also was a 2018 first-round pick who played against Madrigal in college at Stanford in the Pac 12.

“We’re friends off the field. It’s a cool moment,” Madrigal said. “I think it’s going to be a special moment for not only him but me also.”

With Madrigal in the lineup, he joins a young core Sox fans have been waiting for with Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert and Tim Anderson.

“The excitement for everybody is palpable in terms of finally seeing all these young men on the same field at the major league level,” Renteria said.

“It’s a great feeling,” Madrigal said. “There’s been glimpses over the years so far of the potential of this team. We have a lot of season left and looking forward to hopefully catching fire with this lineup and seeing what we can do.”

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