Prior to the second game of a Tuesday evening doubleheader, the White Sox announced that Luis Robert had been cleared to begin a rehab assignment. Robert has been out since the beginning of May with a hip strain. Robert will join High A Winston-Salem on Wednesday, July 21. With Eloy Jiménez rehabbing in Charlotte and Robert cleared for assignment, White Sox fans have many things to look forward to next month.
Over the weekend, Robert took live batting practice and light outfield work at the Arizona facility and showed signs of improvement.
Any position player currently rehabbing in the minors has up to 20 days, putting Robert just behind Jiménez in terms of returning to the White Sox. Jiménez will likely return at the end of July, in a series against the Cleveland Indians. Robert will likely return in the second week of August, right on track to attend a special game in Iowa, the Field of Dreams game against the New York Yankees.
The White Sox were unclear if Robert would return this season after the injury in May. It was announced that his injury could potentially keep him three to four months out of resuming any baseball activities. With his potential August return, this timetable has been expedited significantly.
The White Sox have struggled all season with injuries, often to key players. Yasmani Grandal was the most recent player to the dreaded IL after tearing a tendon in his left knee during the July 5 game against the Minnesota Twins. However, Grandal was spotted on the field, sporting a knee brace for a game of catch and participated in pregame warmups on July 18.
This news has many wondering what will happen with the roster upon the return of Jiménez, Robert and Grandal.
It’s a good problem to have — and one Sox fans didn’t expect to ponder. In Roberts’s and Jimenez’s absence, a team whose issues with roster depth were badly exposed early in the season — remember Nick Williams? — has watched role players turn into folk heroes and unsung rookies make an immediate impact. The results — 57-37, eight games ahead of the rest of the pack in the AL Central — speaks to that success.
Gavin Sheets and Andrew Vaughn came to the team as first basemen, but are currently playing well in the outfield, which begs the question of where they end up once Jiménez and Robert return. Tony La Russa wants to see Jiménez as the primary DH with the occasional left field start, much to Jiménez’s dismay.
Andrew Vaughn has proven worthy of his starts and has quickly picked up left field. Dare I say I prefer him in left field to Jiménez. As a fan and arm-chair manager, I’d rather see Jiménez DH as his outfield skills are, well, not great.
The White Sox certainly had some glaring holes early in the season, primarily Robert’s defensive prowess and the powerful bat of Jiménez. Yermín Mercedes started off hot during each plate appearance, even breaking records. But his power was short-lived in Chicago and reinforcements were called up.
Gavin Sheets and Jake Burger were called up from Charlotte and started to breathe new life into the White Sox. The White Sox front office also cut ties with Adam Eaton in a dual announcement of Eaton being DFA’d and Adam Engel returning.
With the trade deadline looming and star players returning, fans are often wondering what Rick Hahn and Tony La Russa are thinking. All I know is, whatever happens in August and beyond will be a whole lot more fun to watch than fans initially feared when the injury bug first bit.
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