White Sox star center fielder Luis Robert has been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment, the team announced. He’ll be assigned to High-A Winston-Salem and begin play on Wednesday. Robert has been out since early May after suffering a Grade 3 strain of his right hip flexor tendon.
Rehabbing position players can spend up to twenty days in the minors, so Robert’s in line to return to the major league club by the second week of August barring any sort of setback. He’ll follow shortly after left fielder Eloy Jiménez, who began a rehab assignment of his own a little more than a week ago.
At the time of his injury, it wasn’t clear whether Robert would be able to return at all this season. Not only is he line to do so, he’s returning to game action after about two and a half months. That’s a surprisingly welcome development after the initial prognosis suggested he’d need three to four months before even beginning baseball activities.
One of the game’s best defensive outfielders, Robert got off to a hot start at the plate before going down. Across 103 plate appearances, he’s hitting .316/.359/.463, a step up from the average offensive production he posted last year.
When Robert and Jiménez went down, outfield looked like a natural potential area for an upgrade. Chicago has coasted to a 7.5 game lead in the AL Central largely without that duo, though, and their impending returns lessen the need for GM Rick Hahn and the front office to explore that market before the July 30 trade deadline.
Setbacks from Robert and/or Jiménez could obviously change that, but the outfield no longer looks like a problem area for the South Siders. Indeed, the front office is expected to prioritize finding bullpen help over the next couple weeks, writes Bruce Levine of 670 the Score. On the position player side, Levine notes that the organization’s bigger concerns are now second base and catcher, where Nick Madrigal and Yasmani Grandal have gone down with respective injuries of their own.