White Sox’ Michael Kopech cleared to start Sunday vs. Astros

HOUSTON — After passing a test on his right knee during a 30-pitch bullpen session at Minute Maid Park on Thursday’s off day and following it with some intense throwing on flat ground Friday, White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech will get another start on Sunday Night Baseball.

“He feels great. He’s ready,” manager Tony La Russa said Friday.

It was an unforeseen happening when Kopech slammed a baseball in anger into the infield grass after throwing 13 pitches in his last start Sunday against the Rangers, then hobbled off the mound with right knee soreness.

It didn’t look good.

“I probably would have been pretty doubtful about it,” Kopech said.

Turns out Kopech pinched a preexisting cyst that created fluid behind the knee, according to general manager Rick Hahn. Kopech had the knee drained and while he might have to tolerate discomfort when he throws Sunday and beyond, knowing nothing is structurally wrong gives him and the Sox assurances he can continue to pitch, starting Sunday.

“It’s just being able to tolerate it and I can tolerate it,” Kopech said.

“But it’s gotten better day to day. Who knows? Maybe by Sunday, I’m not feeling anything at all.”

Kopech wasn’t as sharp in his bullpen as he had hoped to be but the bigger deal was the knee, the one he drives off of, feeling as well as it did Friday.

“I’ve gone through my delivery 200 times in the past two days and it’s felt good every time,” he said. “I don’t think it’s anything that’s going to affect me on the mound.”

Kopech is 2-2 with a 1.92 ERA in 11 starts. On May 26 at Yankee Stadium he pitched seven innings of one-hit shutout ball, striking out six and walking two.

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