NEW YORK – The White Sox will have to wait a day to be reminded of how good they’ll need to be to enjoy a successful postseason.
The first game of a three-game weekend series with the big, thumping Yankees, the winningest team in baseball who showed the Sox how winning three of four games is done in Chicago last week, was rained out Friday and will be made up as part of a doubleheader Sunday starting at 2:05 p.m.
The Sox will take on the Yankees Saturday (12:05 p.m., NBCSCH) with Dallas Keuchel pitching against Nestor Cortes.
Johnny Cueto will make his second start for the Sox in the first game Sunday and Michael Kopech starts the nightcap. Kopech returned from the Paternity List Friday and will join the team Saturday.
Right-handed reliever Ryan Burr was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte to make room for Kopech on the roster.
The Sox have underachieved since getting knocked out by the Astros in four games in the ALDS last season, to where getting to .500 by taking three of five games from the Royals on the first leg of their road trip was notable.
It gets much tougher again with the Yankees, who, along with the Astros, make the Sox’ World Series goal look more than formidable.
“I don’t need a reminder,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said Friday when asked if playing the Yankees demonstrates the task that lies ahead. “It’s fresh in my mind enough that to get there you have to win games against teams. And then when you get there they’re all [teams] like that.”
“There” is the postseason. The Sox haven’t looked like a postseason team yet.
“Fortunately I can say [from experience] it is easily the most fun you can have,” La Russa said. “Because you’re playing the best that year and by definition there is no tomorrow.”
La Russa is resting players now to have them fresh down the stretch and for a possible October, when rest goes by the boards.
“You don’t have to risk giving some innings, you’re going to take your best shot every day,” he said. “It’s very freeing. And it’s exciting.
“Now, there is so much fun ahead we have to get there. And we have to understand how much we have to improve.”
The Sox haven’t had their full team together because of injuries, and many the healthy ones, especially on the offensive side, are underperforming.
Getting them right, getting Eloy Jimenez back from his hamstring injury and having Lance Lynn in the starting rotation, should help.
Lynn, looking at a return after the first week of June, faced live hitters for the first time at Yankees Stadium before the rain. So did left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer (knee). Bummer looked good enough, La Russa said, to warrant a possible return Sunday when he’s eligible to come off the IL.
Both pitched the equivalent of a full inning, and Lynn will throw two in similar fashion Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field, then another sim game five days after that.
“He’s feeling good, really good,” La Russa said.
If nothing else, the Sox arrived in New York Friday night in good spirits. Forced to wait on the plane for buses after a long day including travel, they turned it into a good time.
“They ended having so many laughs and so much fun you almost wouldn’t have minded if the bus was another 15 or 20 minutes late,” La Russa said. “It’s typical of what this club is.”
“The only thing we can try just to live in peace with ourselves and enjoy life,” Jose Abreu said.
“We have the group of guys to have a good run. We have talent, veteran guys, young guys. We all know what we need to do in order to perform the way we want to. It’s just on us to work hard every day and do what we know we can do.”