White Sox second baseman Cesar Hernandez looking to expand his comfort zone

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While Cesar Hernandez has struggled to find a comfortable hitting stroke since joining the White Sox, it has been helpful, he said that his new teammates made him feel comfortable since the day he arrived before the trade deadline.

“There are a good group of guys here,” Hernandez said through translator Billy Russo. “The Latinos have welcomed me in a good way, and the other guys have, too. I feel comfortable here. It has been easier than I was expecting.

“It’s good to be on a contender and to be part of that. This is a very good team and the goal is to be in a position to win it all. That gives you extra motivation.”

The switch-hitting second baseman, acquired from the Indians for left-handed pitching prospect Konnor Pilkington on July 29, is finding comfort knowing he can win a game with his glove while he waits for his bat to come around.

“As a professional baseball player I take pride in every aspect of the game because I know I can impact the game in any aspect,” Hernandez said. “I try to make up for the difference. If your hitting is down you can pick up the team or save a game with your defense.”

Hernandez entered Friday’s rain-delayed game against the Royals batting .211/.295/.289 with three homers in 30 games for the Sox. He batted .231/.307/.431 with 18 homers in 96 games with the Indians.

A Gold Glove winner with the Indians in 2020, Hernandez knows he’s not perfect defensively, either. He made three errors in one game against the Yankees on Aug. 15. But he has made plenty of good plays, which makes it easier to allow himself to flush that one bad day.

“I’m not used to that happening but it happens,” he said. “People who don’t make errors are in the stands. It’s easy for them.”

Hernandez and hitting coach Frank Menechino have been working on “adjustments,” Hernandez said, “so I can be the hitter I can be.”

Menechino recently said Hernandez was putting pressure on himself.

“He’s trying to hit his way out of this and we have to get him back to being patient, staying behind the ball, think base hits, take your walks and move forward,” Menechino said.

The magic number

The White Sox (78-56 going into their rain-delayed game against the Royals Friday) were off to their best 134-game start since 2006. Their magic number to clinch the AL Central title was 21.

This and that

Right-hander Ryan Burr was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to take Lucas Giolito’s spot on the active roster. Burr was 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA over two stints with the Sox in 2021.

*Craig Kimbrel, unavailable Wednesday because of an undisclosed physical issue unrelated to his arm, per manager Tony La Russa, figured to be the ninth inning choice Friday. La Russa said “this is probably not a good day to push [closer Liam Hendriks],” he got five outs to earn his 31st save Wednesday.

*The Blue Jays claimed Jake Lamb on waivers. Lamb was designated for assignment by the Sox Wednesday.

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