Minicamp serves distinct purpose for White Sox

Hitting coach Steverson: Organization's identity being 'instilled in our young players'

Minicamp serves distinct purpose for White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- At the conclusion of a three-day White Sox hitters minicamp Wednesday afternoon, following hitting coach Todd Steverson's upbeat summation to the 16 players at Camelback Ranch, manager Rick Renteria added in his parting words.

"Don't be afraid to have fun," Renteria said while wrapping up the pre-Spring Training get-together.

White Sox Spring Training info

Those words became an important part of the minicamp and really stand for the 2017 White Sox season hovering in a rebuilding state. But there was a purpose behind the fourth annual event aside from bringing talented players into warmer weather to grab some swings.

Take Wednesday's last action in the batting cage as an example.

The players were split into two groups. Steverson would call out situations for them to hit, such as "advance the runner from second" or "beat the shift," or it would be a simple competition with various hitters trying to hit each spot on the infield and then on the outfield. The winning group avoided shagging baseballs.

"Going forward as an organization, you want to have an identity," Steverson said. "That's being put forth and instilled in our young players in this camp and will be instilled in our guys at the big league level, too.

"Up and down the organization, you want continuity. We are making sure everybody knows who we are and how we are going to play going forward."

Moncada impressing early at camp

Yoan Moncada and Zack Collins were the featured attractions of the minicamp, primarily because of their No. 1 and No. 6 rankings amid the Top 30 White Sox prospects. But every player in attendance held some level of importance to the White Sox future.

Minicamp: Moncada | Collins

Collins working hard for 2017

Outfielder Charlie Tilson and third baseman Matt Davidson are working their way back from season-ending injuries, with Tilson achieving a rehab goal of participating in the minicamp without restrictions. Davidson looked locked in from a small sample size, crushing batting-practice offerings to all fields.

"His approach, his swings are really solid," Renteria said of Davidson. "The ball is jumping off of his bat."

Tilson, Davidson arrive at camp

Those players serve as a couple of individual examples. The team remained first and foremost for Renteria, Steverson, assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks, Minor League hitting coordinator Mike Gellinger and the other coaches and front office members in attendance.

On-field action started late on Day 1, with the White Sox players and coaches going through an open forum on hitting with questions about anything and every situation. Establishing a foundation to use their at-bats purposefully, Renteria says, ultimately impacts the team on a daily basis.

"Players have to ultimately perform," Renteria said. "They have to have an idea of what they are doing when going to the plate, beyond the mechanics aspect of it. This is more what the game is asking you to do -- what are the things you are going to require to give yourself a chance to execute the action that you want?

"They've done a nice job talking to these young men. It's something they are going to continue to do throughout the whole organization, just reaffirmations of how we are going to approach our daily routines and the game."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.