White Sox’ Andrew Vaughn responds to leadoff role with homer on first pitch

BALTIMORE, Md. — Andrew Vaughn led off as a Cal first baseman “a few times” in college, he said, and that was good enough for Tony La Russa, who inserted the .293/.344/.456 hitter and team RBI leader in the top spot in his lineup Thursday against the Orioles.

Vaughn showed he was up to the task on the first pitch, belting right-hander Jordan Lyles’ first pitch to right-center field for a home run. Then he doubled off the left field wall near the 384-foot sign in the third inning.

“Everybody steps in the box the same way,” Vaughn said before the game, downplaying the significance of his first leadoff experience in the majors. “Hopefully get the party started for the boys and hopefully we win today.”

Before posting the lineup, Vaughn, who played left field, said La Russa told him, “Just do your thing.”

With regular leadoff man Tim Anderson on the IL and AJ Pollock getting a day off, Vaughn was the pick to bat first with left-handed hitting Gavin Sheets — who had five hits in the first two games of the series near his hometown, then two more singles his first times up Thursday.

This lineup was molded around La Russa’s new 3-4-5 combo of Luis Robert, Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez as the manager looks to spark some offense.

“Mostly I like 3-4-5, it gives our run producers a chance to hit with runners on base, and Andrew is one of the best at doing that,” La Russa said.

The Sox had 10 or more hits in their previous three games, but averaging four runs and losing twice.

“We definitely want to cash in,” Vaughn said. “Get guys on base, get them in. That’s how you win ball games, score runs. We’ve got to try to take advantage of those opportunities.”

Grandal, Leury headed to Charlotte

Catcher Yasmani Grandal and Leury Garcia left for Triple-A Charlotte to begin minor league rehab assignments. Grandal feels good after hyperextending his right knee against the Guardians Saturday and Garcia’s back and hip are pain free.

Grandal, who has struggled with a .203/.307/.259 hitting line with three homers in 74 games, is eligible to come off the IL Wednesday. Garcia’s 10-day stint expires Saturday.

“See them next week,” La Russa said.

Grandal was also on the IL from June 12-July 22 with low back spasms. Last year he batted .337/.481/.673 with nine homers over his final 30 games after coming back from a torn tendon in his left knee.

He established career highs in on-base and slugging percentage and OPS in 2021, and a struggling Sox lineup is crying out for that type of production, but it remains to be seen what Grandal has left after battling multiple physical problems the last two seasons.

“I just take it as it comes right now,” Grandal said Wednesday. “Whatever happens, happens. I’ve never really taken care of myself as much as I’ve taken care of myself this year. So from now on, [bleep] it. That’s pretty much the only way I can explain it. Want to go until it breaks and if it doesn’t break, then we keep going.”

Eloy returns

La Russa said Eloy Jimenez, who didn’t play Wednesday after getting drilled in the left elbow by a 102-mph pitch, arrived early Thursday, worked out and “got the green light” to play.

Luis Robert, who took uncomfortable swings his last time up Tuesday due to some discomfort in his left wrist, was good to go, La Russa said, but he took a one-handed swing hitting into a double play ending the third after Vaughn’s double and Sheets’ single.

Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.