Nick Madrigal's continued improvement has been key for injury-plagued White Sox


CHICAGO (670 The Score) – Now fully ensconced as the White Sox’s starting second baseman, Nick Madrigal is producing at a strong level in his second MLB season.

Madrigal is hitting .306 with a .348 on-base percentage and .773 OPS. His batting average leads the team (outside of the injured Luis Robert, who has only played in 25 games), and he leads the White Sox with 59 hits. Madrigal, 24, is renowned for his ability to make consistent contact – often while behind in the count or with two strikes – and he has brought dependability and toughness to the team as well.

While off to a strong start, Madrigal is working to keep everything in perspective. He’s focusing on improving his defense under the tutelage of third-base coach/infield instructor Joe McEwing – specifically making stronger throws – as well as working with hitting coach Frank Menechino on a daily basis.

“I am feeling really comfortable out there right now,” Madrigal said. "We work hard at practice getting things right. But you look at the best players in the game and over a long season, they go through things that aren't always right. Joe and the other coaches are great resources for me. Frank has done a great job of breaking down my mechanics in hitting and concentrating on the positive things in my game as well.

"You are facing the best players in the world every day. I certainly believe in my talent, but I can't try to do too much. I must do the best with the talent I have against these gifted pitchers each game. I am very blessed to be in a competition each day with the best players on the planet.”

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Madrigal got the nickname “Nicky Two Strikes” from White Sox television play-by-play man Jason Benetti for his penchant to produce at a high level with two strikes. Madrigal is hitting .291 with two strikes and is hitting .302 when behind in the count at any point.

“My family has enjoyed the nickname and laughed about it,” Madrigal said. “I don't pay much attention to it. Certainly, it's fun to have some fans call me that, but it’s no added pressure. I will go out there and play my game no matter what you call me.”

Madrigal’s strong play has helped the White Sox overcome serious injuries to star center fielder Luis Robert and slugger Eloy Jimenez. Despite those two being out, the White Sox are 36-23 and in first place in the AL Central, four games ahead of the second-place Indians.

"Every team I have ever played on going back to high school, there were high expectations to win,” Madrigal said. “Being in a White Sox uniform, I could see what they were building and what the road would be like building on the great tradition here. Hopefully, we can keep that going on for a long time.

"We have so much talent on this team. I think we can win games in a lot of different ways.”

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.