Luis Robert is expected to rejoin the White Sox this week, per Jared Wyllys of The Chicago Sun-Times. The outfielder has been out since early May after suffering a Grade 3 strain of his right hip flexor tendon. Rehabbing players can spend 20 days in the minors on rehab assignments. Since Robert’s first game of his rehab was July 21st, the 20 days will have elapsed tomorrow, August 9th. [UPDATE: Robert will be activated before tomorrow’s game, Tony La Russa told The Athletic’s James Fegan and other reporters.]
Given Robert’s immense talent, this is tremendous news for the club. But it’s also going to create some tough decisions. “We’re going to get squeezed. We’ve had some guys earn a lot of at-bats who don’t want to give them up, so we’ll see what happens,” Wyllys quotes manager Tony La Russa as saying. In the absence of Robert, and the recently-returned Eloy Jimenez, the White Sox have had some players step up and hold the outfield together. Brian Goodwin, signed to a minor league contract in May, has been given 165 plate appearances and responded by putting up a wRC+ of 119. Gavin Sheets has a wRC+ of 111 across 99 plate appearances. But before going on the IL, Robert was a notch above both, with a wRC+ of 128 in 103 plate appearances. And the White Sox obviously consider Robert a cornerstone of their club, given the big extension they gave him before the 2020 season. Between Robert, Jimenez, Goodwin, Sheets and Adam Engel, the team will be spoiled for choices in the outfield, as they are sitting comfortably atop the AL Central 10 1/2 games ahead of Cleveland.
More from the Junior Circuit…
- La Russa also provides an update on Yasmani Grandal, who is doing on-field drills but isn’t quite ready for a rehab assignment. “There’s been some discussion, but I think it’s still a guestimate,” La Russa said. “The big thing, he’s improving, and he’s getting better.” Grandal has always had a profile that included low batting averages, overcome by high walk rates and power. But he took that model to new extremes in 2021 before tearing a tendon in his knee in July, as evidenced by his incredible slash line of .188/.388/.426, producing a wRC+ of 135. Seby Zavala has done well in his stead, slashing .238/.333/.500, though in a small sample of just 50 plate appearances.
- Chris McCosky of The Detroit News gets an update on Jake Rogers from Tigers manager AJ Hinch. “He’s not quite ready to throw yet,” Hinch said. “We won’t see him in the month of August. September at the earliest. We just hope there are no setbacks at this point. If we do anything that causes a setback between now and September, then we’re talking about missing the rest of the year. So we’re trying to be super cautious with his step by step progress.” Before hurting his throwing arm in July, the 26-year-old catcher was enjoying a breakout season, slashing .239/.306/.496, with a wRC+ of 116. With Rogers out, Eric Haase has taken over with aplomb, producing an even better line of .247/.297/.532, for a wRC+ of 122.
- Chris Archer could potentially resume his rehab assignment this week, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The righty was removed from a rehab start a week ago with hip soreness. It seems to have only been a minor setback, with Archer getting back on the mound this week. As of last week, Archer was scheduled to throw 75 pitches, on his way to building up for a starter’s workload. But he was removed after 31 pitches because of the hip issue. Tampa surprisingly subtracted from its rotation at the trade deadline, sending Rich Hill to the Mets, seemingly confident enough in the emergence of younger options such as Luis Patino, Shane McClanahan and Josh Fleming. Archer has an excellent track record but is a few years removed from meaningful contributions on the hill, due to various injuries. Since 2019, he’s thrown 124 innings, with an ERA of 5.23.