- Eloy Jimenez got just two at-bats in his first rehab assignment before leaving the game with right leg soreness. The White Sox slugger is day-to-day, per the team. Jimenez was seemingly making a quick recovery from a torn right hamstring, but the good vibes may have been too good to be true. Jimenez has been out for only a month for an injury that was projected to require a six-to-eight week layoff.
White Sox Rumors
The White Sox announced that right-hander Joe Kelly has been placed on the 15-day injured list due to a strained left hamstring. Lefty Tanner Banks has been recalled to take his place on the active roster.
Signed in the offseason to a two-year, $17MM deal, Kelly began the season on the IL due to a biceps strain that he suffered while with the Dodgers last year. He was activated just over two weeks ago and is now heading back to the IL due to a separate issue. Through just 5 2/3 innings on the year so far, he has a ghastly 9.53 ERA, though that’s mostly due to a single disastrous outing. On May 12, his second appearance of the year, he was tagged for five earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. Apart from that, he’s allowed just one earned run on the year.
As for his timeline, Kelly told James Fegan of The Athletic that it’s a Grade 2 strain with an estimated recovery time of 3-4 weeks. Despite losing Kelly’s talents, this shouldn’t be a devastating blow for the club as they have many other strong options for late-game appearances, including Liam Hendriks, Kendall Graveman, Aaron Bummer and Jose Ruiz.
Speaking with reporters (including James Fegan of the Athletic), general manager Rick Hahn indicated that Robert has been experiencing symptoms of the virus. Whether he’s tested positive isn’t clear, but Hahn indicated he didn’t expect the 2020 Gold Glove winner to return to the team until next week. In the meantime, it seems likely Adam Engel will handle the center field duties, as he is tonight against the Guardians.
Robert is off to another great start to the season. One of the game’s top defensive outfielders, the Cuba native also consistently posts quality production at the plate. This season, the 24-year-old is hitting .285/.319/.438. That’s far better than the .237/.308/.380 league average offensive output, and Robert has also chipped in six stolen bases. While he’s not likely to be out for an extended period of time, the Sox will be down one of their best players for the next few games.
Hahn provided more fortuitous news on a pair of key players rehabbing from injury. Both starter Lance Lynn and left fielder Eloy Jiménez are likely to head out on minor league rehab assignments within a week. That’s not particularly surprising in Lynn’s case, as the big right-hander had progressed to throwing to live hitters. It’s a more positive development for Jiménez, who is exactly a month removed from a hamstring tendon tear that initially came with a six-to-eight week recovery timetable.
Pitchers are allotted up to 30 days on rehab assignments; those stints can last as many as 20 days for position players. Lynn is still at least a few weeks from his return, as he’s on the 60-day injured list and not eligible to make his season debut until June 6 at the earliest. Jiménez, meanwhile, seems to be trending towards the earlier end of his initial timetable. The power-hitting outfielder had scuffled through the season’s first couple weeks, hitting .222/.256/.333 with a lone homer in 11 games.
- Right-hander Lance Lynn has yet to make his 2022 debut with the White Sox after undergoing spring knee surgery, but he’ll throw to live hitters for the second time in his rehab process today, as noted by MLB.com’s Betelhem Ashame. Lynn, who also faced hitters this past Friday, inked a two-year, $38MM extension with the Sox last summer just prior to the trade deadline. The 35-year-old Lynn had a career year with the South Siders in 2021, pitching to a 2.69 ERA in 157 innings over the life of 28 starts, and he’s posted a terrific 3.26 ERA in 449 1/3 frames dating back to 2020.
The Yankees announced Monday that third baseman Josh Donaldson has been placed on the Covid-19-related injured list. Miguel Andujar has been recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as a substitute player in his place. Donaldson hasn’t yet tested positive but reported symptoms to the team. He, Joey Gallo and Kyle Higashioka (all on the Covid list) are “more than just not feeling well,” says manager Aaron Boone (Twitter link via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com). “They feel sick. … They’re not available to play.”
That, however, isn’t the Donaldson news that’s the primary topic of conversation today. Major League Baseball announced that Donaldson has received a one-game suspension after making a quip to Yankees shortstop Tim Anderson wherein Donaldson called him “Jackie.” Anderson, White Sox skipper Tony La Russa and several of Anderson’s teammates were quick to call the comment racist, while Donaldson after the game sought to play it off as an inside joke through which he meant no harm. Donaldson plans to appeal the suspension, according to the league.
White Sox closer Liam Hendriks didn’t mince words when asked how the Sox clubhouse felt about Donaldson’s explanation, calling it “bullshit” and telling reporters (video link via Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times): “Usually you have inside jokes with people you get along with, not people that don’t get along at all.”
Fellow reliever Joe Kelly, who was doing a radio appearance with the Parker & Spiegel Show on 670 The Score at the time the suspension broke, expressed disbelief. “One game?” Kelly asked rhetorically. “I got eight games for making a silly face at Carlos Correa.”
Major League Baseball’s statement on the matter was as follows:
“MLB has completed the process of speaking to the individuals involved in this incident. There is no dispute over what was said on the field. Regardless of Mr. Donaldson’s intent, the comment he directed toward Mr. Anderson was disrespectful and in poor judgment, particularly when viewed in the context of their prior interactions. In addition, Mr. Donaldson’s remark was a contributing factor in a bench-clearing incident between the teams, and warrants discipline.”
In other Yankees-related news on the day, Boone said that an MRI on closer Aroldis Chapman’s ailing Achilles tendon came back clean (Twitter link via Lindsey Adler of The Athletic). A trip to the injured list, however, remains a possibility for Chapman. The team is still weighing its options. The 34-year-old Chapman’s velocity, strikeout rate and walk rate have all gone the wrong direction this year. After opening the season with a dozen scoreless outings, Chapman has yielded at least one in each of his past five appearances, causing his ERA to jump to 3.86.
Meanwhile, it seems as though lefty JP Sears will make the first start of his Major League career tomorrow. Boone further divulged that the 26-year-old, who tossed a pair of scoreless relief innings in the Majors and has a 0.83 ERA and 30-to-2 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 Triple-A frames this season, will make a spot start during tomorrow’s doubleheader (Twitter link via Hoch).
The White Sox announced that, prior to today’s doubleheader, left-hander Aaron Bummer has been activated from the injured list. No corresponding move is necessary at this time, as the club is allowed to carry 27 players on their active roster for today’s doubleheader, instead of the usual 26.
Bummer, 28, landed on the injured list two weeks ago due to a knee issue. This is the sixth straight season of Bummer appearing out of the club’s bullpen, having thrown 198 career innings with a 3.23 ERA, 26% strikeout rate, 11% walk rate and 67.9% ground ball rate. He’s been moving up the depth chart to higher leverage responsibilities, having notched 67 holds in that time. He got off to a bit of a slow start this year, logging a 4.91 ERA over his first 11 innings, though it’s possible this knee issue has been a factor.
Bummer and Garrett Crochet were set to be the club’s top lefties coming into the season, though Crochet underwent Tommy John surgery in April and Bummer has been on the shelf for the past couple of weeks. In that time, the club has turned to Bennett Sousa and Tanner Banks as bullpen southpaws, who have held their own in limited action so far. Sousa has an ERA of 3.46 through 13 innings, though his 17% strikeout rate and .216 BABIP suggest there might be a bit of good luck buoying that performance. Similarly, Banks has a 3.00 ERA through 18 innings, though with a 17.6% strikeout rate and .216 BABIP. Both of them have options and could be sent down at some point before Tuesday’s game, when the club will need to shrink the size of their roster back down to 26.
The White Sox announced Wednesday that they’ve reinstated righty Lucas Giolito from the Covid-related injured list and opened a spot on the 40-man by transferring righty Lance Lynn to the 60-day injured list. It’s a procedural move that doesn’t impact Lynn’s timetable; he’s eligible to be activated on June 6, as the “60-day” minimum window is retroactive to his original IL placement — not today’s transfer.
Giolito was placed on the Covid list just last week but will return in a matter of days. The brief stint on the IL pushed back his start by a few days, as he’ll be taking the hill for the first time since May 10 when he does so in a few hours against the Royals. Giolito also missed 12 days earlier this season due to an abdominal strain, but he’s been characteristically excellent when on the active roster. In five starts (26 2/3 innings), he’s pitched to a 2.70 ERA with a 35.2% strikeout rate and an 8.6% walk rate. Dating back to his 2019 breakout campaign, Giolito has been Chicago’s most consistent starter, turning in 454 1/3 frames of 3.43 ERA ball and thrice receiving down-ballot Cy Young votes.
Lynn, 35, left his final Spring Training start with knee discomfort, and subsequent evaluations revealed a torn tendon that required surgical repair. He’s yet to embark on a minor league rehab assignment and isn’t even slated to face live hitters for the first time until Friday, so he wasn’t likely to return prior to June 6 anyhow. Assuming all goes well with his live batting practice session and his handful of minor league rehab outings, an early or mid-June return seems realistic.
The Sox inked Lynn to a two-year, $38MM extension with a third-year club option last July. He’d been set to reach the open market following the 2021 campaign and likely would’ve been positioned as one of the market’s top veteran arms, but he opted for the security of a new multi-year deal with a win-now club that’s just a few hours from his hometown in Indiana. Over the past three seasons, Lynn carries a 3.26 ERA with a 27.5% strikeout rate and a 6.9% walk rate in 449 1/3 frames.
With Giolito now back and Lynn perhaps not terribly far behind, the White Sox’ rotation is approaching full strength for the first time this season. They’ll have some decisions to make, barring further injuries, as Giolito and Lynn will join a starting mix that also includes Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, Dallas Keuchel, Vince Velasquez and Johnny Cueto, who blanked Kansas City over seven frames in an outstanding ChiSox debut this week. Of that group, Keuchel and Velasquez have struggled considerably, though Keuchel’s $18MM salary may earn him some additional leash. Kopech, meanwhile, could have his innings carefully monitored as he embarks on his first full season as a big league starter.
Wes Benjamin has signed with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to reports out of South Korea. He’ll make $331K in salary for the prorated portion of the season and is expected to report to the team early next month.
Benjamin, 28, had been in the White Sox organization after signing a minor league deal in February. The left-hander had started seven games with Triple-A Charlotte, posting a 3.82 ERA with a solid 24.6% strikeout rate across 30 2/3 innings. That seemed to make him a viable rotation depth candidate for a ChiSox club that hasn’t gotten much from back-end starters Vince Velasquez and Dallas Keuchel. It doesn’t appear Benjamin was on the verge of a big league call, though, and the Sox granted him his release to pursue this opportunity in Asia.
While Benjamin didn’t make it to the majors with Chicago, he appeared at the game’s highest level in each of the previous two seasons. Suiting up with the Rangers — the team that selected him out of the University of Kansas back in 2014 — he made 21 appearances from 2020-21. Benjamin tossed 45 frames of 6.80 ERA ball as a swing option in Texas.
KBO teams are capped to three foreign-born players on the active roster. In order to accommodate Benjamin’s addition, the Wiz had to part ways with a foreign player. They released Venezuela native William Cuevas, ending his three-plus year run in Suwon. Cuevas posted a 3.89 ERA in 486 1/3 frames with the Wiz, but he’s only made two starts this year because of an elbow injury (h/t to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News). The right-hander pitched in the majors with the Red Sox and Tigers between 2016-18.
The White Sox announced Tuesday that they’ve selected the contract of righty Davis Martin from Triple-A Charlotte and transferred lefty Garrett Crochet to the 60-day injured list in order to open a spot on the 40-man roster. The move involving Crochet was a formality after the southpaw underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. Martin will start the second game of today’s doubleheader, per the Sox. Chicago also placed right-hander Michael Kopech on the paternity list and called up right-hander Kyle Crick as the 27th man for today’s twin bill.
It’ll be the Major League debut for Martin, 25, who was the ChiSox’ 14th-round pick back in 2018. He entered the season ranked 22nd among Chicago farmhands over at FanGraphs and can’t have hurt his stock with a strong performance so far. Maritn opened the season in Double-A Birmingham, where he notched a 3.38 ERA with a huge 32.4% strikeout rate against a tidy 6.9% walk rate. His strikeout rate has dipped to 18.6% in a smaller sample of two Triple-A starts, but Martin has also walked just 4.7% of his Triple-A opponents while pitching to a 1.50 ERA there. Overall, he’s sporting a combined 2.50 ERA and 41-to-9 K/BB ratio through 36 frames between the minor leagues’ top two levels.
After seeing the fruits of their last rebuild (e.g. Luis Robert, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Eloy Jimenez) graduate to the Majors (to say nothing of names like Dane Dunning and Nick Madrigal, who were traded for veterans) the Sox have a notoriously thin farm system. That doesn’t, however, mean it’s totally devoid of depth, and Martin certainly has the makings of a potentially useful spot starter or back-of-the-rotation option. Given that the South Siders currently have Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito on the injured list, having some optionable rotation depth is of increased importance.
That said, Giolito is expected to return from the Covid-related injured list perhaps as soon as tomorrow. The Athletic’s James Fegan tweets that he’s expected to start Wednesday’s game, pushing the remainder of the rotation back a day. Lynn, meanwhile, is slated to throw to hitters Friday as he works back from knee surgery.
Even with Giolito and perhaps Lynn not too far off on the horizon, there should be ample opportunities for Martin if he impresses in today’s spot start and continues to impress down the line in the upper minors. The Sox are likely going to be judicious with Michael Kopech’s workload, and both Dallas Keuchel and Vince Velasquez have struggled mightily in the season’s first six weeks. Johnny Cueto was brilliant in yesterday’s White Sox debut, giving the team a much-needed boost after having his contract selected from Triple-A — he’d inked a minor league deal in early April — but other injuries and absences will surely open additional doors for Martin and others from the farm to make an impact.
The White Sox announced Monday that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Johnny Cueto from Triple-A Charlotte. Cueto, who signed a minor league deal with the Sox last month, will start tonight’s game against the Royals. Infielder Danny Mendick was optioned to Charlotte in a corresponding move. Chicago’s 40-man roster is now at capacity.
Cueto had a May 15 opt-out clause in his contract, so he could’ve become a free agent had the Sox not selected him to the big league roster. Whether Cueto formally triggered that clause yesterday isn’t clear — teams typically have 48 hours to add a player to the roster once an opt-out of that nature is exercised — but with Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn currently on the IL, there was a natural opening for him anyhow. Cueto will earn a prorated $4.2MM salary now that he’s been selected to the Majors.
Through four starts in Triple-A Charlotte, the 36-year-old Cueto posted a tepid 5.17 earned run average, but the remainder of his numbers were far more encouraging. The former Cy Young runner-up fanned 27% of his opponents against a very strong 6.3% walk rate — complementing those solid K/BB numbers with a hefty 57.1% ground-ball rate. It’s a small sample against lesser competition, of course, but Cueto was a generally solid arm with the Giants last season as well. In 114 2/3 innings with San Francisco, he notched a 4.08 ERA with a 20% strikeout rate and a 6.1% walk rate.
While Cueto still appeared to be a viable back-of-the-rotation option, his market was slow to come together this winter. Several teams expressed interest following the lockout — the Twins and Tigers reportedly among them. However, once Opening Day was within arm’s reach, the possibility of a Major League deal ultimately evaporated, as interested parties knew that Cueto wouldn’t be game-ready come Opening Day after looking for a suitable offer throughout the duration of Spring Training.
Cueto will still be able to earn approximately $3.32MM under the prorated terms of his White Sox deal, and he’ll be in the Majors with just 39 days of the trimmed off the calendar. Depending on how he fares early on, it’s possible there’ll be a long-term opportunity for him. Both Dallas Keuchel and Vince Velasquez have struggled to ERAs north of 5.50 through their first six starts, while righty Jimmy Lambert had his own struggles through a pair of spot starts thus far. Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and, once healthy, Giolito and Lynn all seem like locks for long-term rotation spots, health-permitting — but the fifth spot in the rotation is a bit less certain. Keuchel’s weighty contract may well keep him in that spot for now, but if he continues pitching at his current pace and Cueto is able to replicate last year’s solid form, it’d be hard for the Sox not to make a switch.