White Sox need Narvaez, Smith to step up

White Sox need Narvaez, Smith to step up

ANAHEIM -- Catching was never going to be the offensive strength for the White Sox, but some production is required.

Now that they have officially lost starting catcher Geovany Soto for at least three months to elbow surgery, manager Rick Renteria will have to find a way to get the most from relatively inexperienced catchers Omar Narvaez and Kevan Smith.

It figures to be a difficult challenge. Neither catcher has much Major League experience.

It may not be strict platoon. Renteria started the right-handed-hitting Smith, 28, Monday against right-hander Jesse Chavez. On Tuesday, he started Narvaez against right-hander JC Ramirez.

Narvaez, 25, hits left-handed. Smith has actually hit right-handers slightly better, batting .182 for his career, while still looking for his first hit this season in eight at-bats against a right-hander.

Soto's go-ahead two-run single

"Both of them continue to develop," Renteria said. "Smithy was here a little bit last year before he got hurt. He tweaked his back a little bit and was not able to participate. Now that he's here and Narvi is here, I'll continue to rotate them back and forth."

Narvaez is hitting .250 vs. right-handed pitchers, but only .154 against left-handers.

Last season, Narvaez hit .267 in 101 at-bats, while Smith hit .125 in just 16 at-bats.

There are no great offensive numbers there to build much hope around.

At the moment, Renteria said there is no exact plan for their usage.

Narvaez's two-run single

"There will be days when they have back-to-back days," he said. "I think we'll also have conversations with [pitching coach Don Cooper].

"There are sometimes when we might want a catcher to take another pitcher, just to take him for the game on that day and see how he can manage that particular aspect with that particular individual. We want them to be able to catch all the guys, so we'll continue to mix them up."

Right-hander issues

Catching is hardly the only position where the White Sox have struggled offensively against right-handers. As a team, their right-handed-heavy lineup is batting just .223 with an on-base percentage of .282.

Renteria has a simple plan to turn things around.

"Hit 'em," he said. "Continue to have better at-bats. Obviously try not to do too much, stay within ourselves. We're pretty right-handed, so we have to get these guys to get the ball up in the zone where we can handle it a little bit better.

"Obviously they use a lot of secondary pitches that we're going to have to be able to fight or actually put in play in certain situations. We'll find a way. Just keep battling."

Steve Dilbeck is a contributor to MLB.com based in Los Angeles. He covered the White Sox on Tuesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.