(670 The Score) White Sox manager Tony La Russa spent the 2020 season with the Angels as a senior advisor, a role he grew fond of because it meant watching superstar center fielder Mike Trout play every day.
La Russa quickly gained an up-close appreciation of Trout's immense talent and the superb work ethic that he brings to the ballpark. So La Russa doesn't make his comments lightly when comparing second-year White Sox center fielder Luis Robert to an eight-time All-Star and three-time MVP in Trout.
He understands Trout's greatness and believes there are similar traits in Robert, who Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas told La Russa was a "six-tool player" instead of just a five-tool talent.
Since seeing the 23-year-old Robert in spring training, La Russa called his talents "indescribable."
"I know Luis can run, can hit it a mile and can play great defense," La Russa said. "I mean, those are Mike Trout-type talents."
Robert finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2020 after posting a slash line of .233/.302/.436 and hitting 11 homers and driving in 31 runs in 56 games. He also earned a Gold Glove for his defensive play in center field. The cumulative numbers didn't tell the entire story of Robert's rookie season, which included a torrid start and September struggles.
Robert had a slash line of .298/.348/.612 (.960 OPS) entering September. He then hit just .136 with one home run and 32 strikeouts in September as pitchers adjusted to him.
For his part, Robert felt he had turned the corner by late September. He was 4-for-13 with a 487-foot home run in the wild-card round series in Oakland.
"If last year would've been longer, I would've been able to put up better stats," Robert said of the 60-game regular season. "Even though I put up decent numbers.
"What I learned from that was you need to work hard to get over that moment, because that moment is going to linger longer than you'd like to."
White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada recognized Robert overcoming struggles in the way he did himself as a young player from 2016-'18.
"That moment showed what he's able to do," Moncada said.
Robert will be counted on as a key piece for these White Sox, who believe they'll be even better after going 35-25 in the abbreviated 2020 regular season. Robert is set to once again be the team's everyday starter in center field, and La Russa plans to pencil him somewhere in the middle of a deep lineup.
The White Sox believe Robert is ready for a full season of play in which he can display his Trout-like talents.
"The talent is -- I mean, I like Frank's comment," La Russa said. "He's got six tools. I've never heard that about anybody."
Abreu eyeing return soon
The White Sox believe first baseman Jose Abreu could join their camp Friday or next Monday, La Russa said.
Abreu, 34, tested positive for COVID-19, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. Abreu is asymptomatic and believes he contracted the virus in January.
"He's raring to go," La Russa said.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.