It may be a 60-game season, but patience can still be rewarded.
For the White Sox, that was proven Saturday. After a sluggish, sometimes sloppy Opening Day loss to the Minnesota Twins, the White Sox bounced back with a 10-3 victory they controlled from start to finish.
On a more micro level, second baseman Leury García also showed why patience is important, silencing the Nick Madrigal fan club with a 419-foot solo home run from the left side of the plate and a 404-foot three-run home run from the right side of the plate. Overall, he had three hits in the game, all of which registered exit velocities over 100 miles per hour.
"I guess a redeemer," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "So if there was some concern about him, it was a nice rebounding day."
García's defense in Friday's opener appeared shaky, aggravating those who refuse to accept that Madrigal's assignment to Schaumburg to start the season is in the best long-term interest of the organization.
Saturday, that narrative changed quickly.
And the calls for Madrigal are understandable, to a point. With only 60 games, a week represents roughly 10 percent of the season. One week might get the White Sox an extra year of contractual control of Madrigal, but it could also put a big dent in the team's playoff hopes if the team gets off to a slow start. Friday night's game felt like one that could have gone the other way with better defense behind starter Lucas Giolito.
But general manager Rick Hahn has been consistent in his messaging throughout the rebuild. He has maintained that prospects will not be rushed, and they will only be brought up when ready. In some cases, like with Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert, prospects have pushed the issue to the point of earning long-term deals before even playing a Major League game, nixing any service time issues. In a different case, Michael Kopech earned a promotion in August of 2018, only to be taken down by Tommy John surgery.
In Madrigal's case, the uniqueness of the 2020 season only makes the conversation more complicated. Not only is he on the verge of being Major League ready, but there are no minor league games for him to continue to prove his development. A late summer camp absence by right fielder Nomar Mazara also entered the discussion, because Garcia can play right field, theoretically opening up second base for Madrigal.
But Hahn has maintained that injuries will not lead to early promotions. So the question for the White Sox essentially boiled down to this: Has Nick Madrigal forced the issue to the point the team couldn't survive without his services for a week?
I believe that answer is a genuine no. Madrigal looked much better in summer camp than he did in spring training, but when you compare his readiness to Luis Robert – a legitimate rookie of the year candidate – there's a big gap.
Is Madrigal the best second baseman on the roster? Probably. But again, is the current gap between Madrigal and Garcia large enough that the White Sox couldn't live without the rookie for a week?
Friday night, a lot of White Sox fans would have said yes, but García had an emphatic response Saturday. Believe it or not, García has played in parts of eight MLB seasons now. That included 140 games with the White Sox in 2019, but his best role on a good team will be the swiss army knife who can provide speed, a solid bat and adequate defense. In fact, he's ideally suited for exactly this – filling in for Madrigal on a short-term basis until the promotion occurs.
But what about the lack of a minor league season? What will Madrigal actually gain in Schaumburg?
"The absence of games obviously changes how you evaluate readiness," Hahn said. "It's just one of the anomalies of this season and one of the challenges of this season, that every team is presented with … Ultimately it's going to come down to his level of consistency and what we're seeing from an evaluation standpoint in Schaumburg, as well as what opportunities present themselves in Chicago to make sure he's going to get the opportunity to play every day when the time comes."
I'm not going to try to convince you that a week in Schaumburg will make Madrigal a better player, but I also don't think it will do any harm. Consider it an extra week of training after a truncated three-week ramp up period.
On the other hand, if the White Sox end up keeping Madrigal in Schaumburg for a lengthy period of time without actual games to play in, that will be hard to justify.
Hahn emphasized multiple times that when Madrigal comes back to Chicago, he needs to play every day. That shouldn't be a problem. His defense at second base will be an upgrade and there are plenty of other ways García can contribute.
"I played a lot of outfield last year, but I've been working a lot with (bench coach Joe McEwing) at second base," Garcia said. "I think we're doing a great job and we'll just keep working."
Between García and backup catcher James McCann, who went 3-for-4 with a solo home run in Saturday's victory, manager Rick Renteria has some tough decisions to make on a daily basis.
They'll only get tougher when Madrigal arrives.
Leury Garca shows why White Sox patience with Nick Madrigal is still warranted originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago