By BILLY HEYEN
Danny Mendick may have provided himself the best present he receives for his 26th birthday Saturday.
On a 3-2 fastball from MLB veteran Edwin Jackson, Mendick drove a flyball to left field and out of the ballpark for a two-run home run. It’s Mendick’s second MLB home run since the White Sox called him up earlier in September.
Mendick, the former star at Pittsford Mendon, MCC and UMass-Lowell, has been on the bench more often than not in his first big-league cameo. He’s produced when given the opportunity, playing all around the infield while batting .314 through the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. With the MLB regular season concluding Sunday, Mendick’s long season will soon conclude.
It started for Mendick in spring training, when he couldn’t stop hitting and made a serious case for a roster spot. The White Sox have a crowded infield with young talents Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada, though, so Mendick was eventually sent down to Triple-A Charlotte.
While in Charlotte, Mendick added outfield to his repertoire, giving one more route to big-league time. Still, he was passed over again and again.
It wasn’t until the Knights’ season ended in early September that Mendick finally got the call to the expanded MLB roster of Chicago. He recorded his first big-league hit on a two-strike sacrifice bunt attempt, his first big-league homer on a lunging swing that barely cleared the left-field fence, and has gotten to learn behind Anderson and Moncada.
Homering off Jackson, who has played for an MLB-record 14 teams, is quite the contrast in terms of what’s on the back of each of their baseball cards. Before Saturday, Mendick had never played a game of professional baseball on his birthday, since the minor league seasons conclude in early September.
Mendick may get a few more at bats before his 2019 baseball season is over. What he’s proven in September already, though, is that he should get a shot at more MLB at bats on his birthday in the years ahead.