With Lance Lynn’s status for opener uncertain, Tony La Russa holds off naming White Sox starter

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Manager Tony La Russa put off naming his Opening Day starter for a day Sunday, waiting for more information on the condition of right-hander Lance Lynn’s right knee about 14 hours after the All-Star right-hander hobbled off the field.

La Russa has been saying for a while that he has two Opening Day options in Lynn and Lucas Giolito but also said he was leaning to one of them. Most indications point to Lynn, who is lined up a day before Giolito on the Cactus League pitching schedule. But now it’s not even known if Lynn will be well enough to pitch at all when the Sox open the series next weekend against the Tigers in Detroit.

“He’s walking and talking bravely,” La Russa said.

Lynn was moving around the clubhouse in shorts with no ice or wrap on the knee, and was smiling while talking with teammates Sunday morning. The Sox said they were waiting on more tests before issuing an update on his condition.

“Fingers crossed,” La Russa said.

Hopping on his left leg, limping toward the dugout and bending forward with both hands on his thighs, Lynn exited his final Cactus League start Saturday night against the Diamondbacks with 3 1/3 innings and 79 pitches under his belt after an uneven start in which he was charged with seven runs.

“I think he just landed wrong,” La Russa said. “Or it seemed like it.”

Lynn landed on the injured list last August with inflammation in the same knee and did several weeks of rehabilitation on it after the season, general manager Rick Hahn said.

“I think it’s the same area, yeah,” La Russa said. “Just wait and see. It is what it is, right?”

With a shortened spring leading to the season, and with Michael Kopech having only one two-inning start under his belt, the Sox — like all 30 teams — already faced concerns about starting pitching manpower with innings limits. Lynn’s knee only complicates matters and heightens the importance of Vince Velasquez and Reynaldo Lopez as “backup” starters behind the rotation of Lynn, Giolito, Dylan Cease, Kopech and Dallas Keuchel.

“All morning long we’ve been talking about ‘what ifs’ and how we would cover and I just think that the priority is going to be the series you are playing,” La Russa said “And an opportunity to win the game. It might rain tomorrow, snow the next day. So, we are looking at, we are going to ‘what if’ but the priority will be the first three games against Detroit.”

Lynn was expected to talk to reporters Sunday afternoon.

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