PEORIA, Ariz. — Yermin Mercedes’ transition to left field was temporarily derailed when suffered a hamate fracture in his left hand. Mercedes will be out six-to-eight weeks.
Mercedes, scheduled for surgery Monday in Phoenix, broke the bone trying to check a swing in the sixth inning of Thursday’s Cactus League game against the Giants.
Mercedes was something of a sensation during spring training last season, winning a job and carrying the team offensively as a designated hitter during April, when he was named AL Player of the Month. His production plummeted, however, and he spent the second half of the season at Triple-A Charlotte.
Declaring that he has a new team-first mentality, Mercedes was converted from catcher to left field this spring.
Manager Tony La Russa, who had taken Mercedes to task when he missed a take sign and homered on a 3-0 pitch last season, winced when asked about the injury.
“He’s willing to do whatever,” La Russa said. “He was given serious at-bats because he deserved it. And you look at his average, he had some hits. Sometimes there’s no justice.”
Don’t forget about right-hander Joe Kelly. The veteran reliever signed to a two-year, $17 million deal on March 14 is feeling fine and throwing well as he slow-rolls it toward the start of the season.
“I’m impressed with what I see this quickly,” La Russa said after watching Kelly throw off a mound for the second time Friday. “Just figured it would take him more time to get there. Good sign for us.”
Kelly said he is two or three weeks behind other White Sox relievers in his throwing progression toward the regular season. He hopes to be pitching for the Sox by the end of April.
Throwing pain free in camp, Kelly is over a nerve issue in his elbow that bothered him last season. But the Sox, familiar with a similar problem Aaron Bummer dealt with late in the 2020 seasons, are choosing to not rush Kelly into action.
“The ball is coming out good for where they expected it to be, the body is moving a lot quicker,” Kelly said. “We’re just making sure we stay with the game plan and don’t push it.”
Right-hander Jason Bilous, who was slated for two innings against the Mariners, was one of three players optioned to minors in the first round of roster cuts. Outfielder Blake Rutherford was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte and Bilous and lefty Yoan Aybar, claimed off waivers from the Yankees Thursday, were optioned to Double-A Birmingham.
Catchers Carlos Perez and Xavier Fernandez, infielder Jose Rodriguez, right-hander Kade McClure and Emilio Vargas and left-hander Hunter Schryver were reassigned to minor-league camp.
Fifty players remain in camp.
This and that
Vince Velasquez gets his second start of the spring when the Sox host the Angels and Shohei Ohtani Saturday in Glendale (3:05 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM). Ohtani will be the Angels starting pitcher.
*Outfield prospect Micker Adolfo is 6-for-12 with two homers and five RBI in six Cactus League games.