The White Sox got one big piece back Wednesday and lost two.
One step forward, two steps back.
Somehow, some way, they’ve managed to stay in first place for 56 days this season and every day since May 7 despite a list of injuries too long to list here.
“Just had a run of bad luck,” said right-hander Michael Kopech, who returned to the bullpen for the first time since May 26 after getting sidelined by a hamstring strain. “I really hope we can turn that corner and get everybody healthy and back to being the team we are. We’ve done well with a lot of guys down but we’re capable of a lot more. Really hoping everyone gets on the field healthy and we don’t have any more setbacks.”
There were two more setbacks before the Sox hosted the Twins Wednesday, both from the bullpen. Right-hander Evan Marshall, who exited Tuesday’s game against the Twins with soreness in his forearm, landed on the injured list with a strained right flexor pronator. That wasn’t as surprising an announcement as left-hander Aaron Bummer going on the IL with a right hamstring strain. Lefty Jace Fry was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte.
“Just have to appreciate the depth that the organization has provided us,” manager Tony La Russa said. “We still keep competing. If someone is missing for a bit, we’ve got somebody to come in and help.”
Marshall, who was struggling with a 5.60 ERA after two good seasons as a reliable, late-inning righty, to be out longer than Bummer, who sustained his injury before Tuesday’s game. If there’s a silver lining, it appears to be minor and it gives Bummer 10 days to rest his arm. That’s the only good thing about Kopech being out for a month — it seemingly keeps more bullets in his holster for late in the season.
“It does kind of help us manage that together rather than me pulling in one direction and them pulling in another,” said Kopech, whose innings were going to be watched anyway after he opted out of the 2020 season. “Maybe from here we can ride it out like a regular season and not think about it too much, but like I said it’s out of my hands.”
La Russa said Kopech would slide back into his role of one or two-inning relief guy but was probably good for one inning “against the middle of their lineup” Wednesday. He also made four spot starts.
Dylan Cease started Wednesday and allowed a first-inning homer to Josh Donaldson, booed lustily as the villain after a his war of words with Lucas Giolito and Ozzie Guillen escalated during the day. It was the second night in a row Donaldson homered in the first and the second in a row the Sox erased the lead, this time with homers by Brian Goodwin, Andrew Vaughn, Jose Abreu, Yasmani Grandal and rookie Gavin Sheets in his second game. The Sox, who had scored 18 runs in a row without a homer before Goodwin went deep, led 11-1 in the fifth.
Abreu is playing in pain after getting hit by a pitch below his left knee Sunday.
“If you’re asking me how he does it, I have no idea,” Kopech said. “But it’s inspiring to all of us, especially the many guys that we’ve had banged up this year, that he can seem to get hit by a Mack truck and be in the game the next day, and it happens week after week almost.
“The guy is relentless and it really drives the rest of the team. He knows that we’re a different team with him out there and so he does his best to make sure he’s on the field everyday. We respect that and look at him as a leader because of that.”