Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. wanted to get better at making plays at the wall.
So he and outfield coach Daryl Boston dug into video.
Boston showed Robert film of how outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Kiermaier and former Sox Adam Engel approached those situations.
“Once he saw it visually, he took it and ran with it,” Boston told the Tribune on Monday at Camden Yards.
The results of those sessions were on display in the fourth inning of last week against the Oakland Athletics.
Brent Rooker drove a Jesse Scholtens curveball to deep center field.
It looked like it was going to be a two-run home run. Robert had other plans. He raced to the wall, timed his jump perfectly and robbed Rooker near the 400-foot marker at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“As always I saw the ball in the air and I ran behind it,” Robert said through an interpreter after the Aug. 24 game. “And I did it.
“The ball got to me very fast. I was fortunate enough I was playing back and I was able to get there.”
It was the third time Robert has robbed a home run this season.
“(Boston) identified that in 2020, I was lacking that read of the ball or how the ball was,” Robert said. “Before I was just running behind the ball without noticing the wall.
“We’ve been working on that a lot, early work and I did a lot of work on that in the offseason, too. This year is a result of all that hard work with the help of (Boston), too.”
Robert has become more comfortable, which puts him in position for spectacular catches.
“We talked to him about making the wall his friend,” Boston said. “The best way to do that, he’s a visual learner. We pulled up some videos of guys that were going back to the wall and showing how they picked up the wall first.”
While it wasn’t a play at the wall, Robert received a nice ovation from the fans at Camden Yards during Monday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles after making a diving catch to rob Adley Rutschman of a hit in the eighth inning.
Robert didn’t have many opportunities to make a sensational catch, but did have two hits in Tuesday’s 9-3 loss to the Orioles in front of 14,903.
Sox starter Jesse Scholtens allowed one run on six hits with one strikeout in 5 1/3 innings.
The Orioles went ahead with a three-run double by Anthony Santander with two outs in the seventh against Aaron Bummer. They tacked on five runs in the eighth against Bryan Shaw as the Sox fell to 52-81, matching a season-worst 29 games under .500.
Manager Pedro Grifol said Robert’s work starts well before the first pitch.
“He was born with great athletic ability, but you’ll see the work he puts in,” Grifol said before Tuesday’s game against the Orioles. “You’ll find out why he’s really good and does it every single day. He’s going gap-to-gap in practice every day, he’s reading balls off the bat.
“You’ve got that kind of ability and you put the work in every single day, he’s going to be great.”
Robert earned a Gold Glove Award as a rookie in 2020. He said this year is an improvement.
“I think this year I’ve been better than my previous years, even better than 2020,” Robert said. “I’ve been doing a better job reading the ball and it has been a big difference.”
In the game in which he took the home run away from Rooker, Robert also hit a two-run homer. Asked which he prefers, Robert said in English, “It’s better both like today.”
With his offensive production, Robert could be the first Sox player to win a Silver Slugger Award and Gold Glove Award in the same season.
“I think a lot of that has to do with his health,” Boston said of the defensive strides. “His first year here, he was fully healthy and then he took some steps back. He’s growing and I don’t know if he was fully comfortable with his jumps and taking his bursts.
“First thing in spring training, when I saw the way he was tracking balls in BP, I said, ‘He’s back.’ It was good to see and he hasn’t let up since.”
Communication continues after front office shake-up
It’s been a week since the Sox announced executive vice president Ken Williams and general manager Rick Hahn had been relieved of their responsibilities.
In the release announcing the news, the Sox said they were searching “for a single decision maker to lead the baseball operations department.”
Speculation continues about the next front office steps for the Sox, with assistant general manager Chris Getz’s name listed as someone to watch in reports by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.
The Sox continue to go about the day-to-day business.
“(Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf) hasn’t made a decision yet so we’re just continuing to be led by Chris and (assistant general manager) Jeremy (Haber) until something happens,” Grifol said.
“Jeremy is here (in Baltimore). Chris is back home. Spoke to Chris this morning, spoke to Jeremy today. Communication is really good.”
Source: Berkshire mont