ARLINGTON, Texas — White Sox prospect Reynaldo Lopez left his start against the Rangers in the fifth inning Thursday with soreness in his right side.
At first glance, it doesn’t appear to be serious, with the right-hander saying he might have woken up with it and that it was possibly caused by the team’s flight from Los Angeles the night before. Lopez said he doesn’t expect to miss his third turn.
In any event, an assist for possibly limiting the damage goes to first baseman Jose Abreu, who saw and heard things from Lopez that manager Rick Renteria and trainer Herm Schneider didn’t when they checked on the 23-year-old after Shin-Soo Choo walked and Elvis Andrus singled in the fifth inning of the Rangers’ 9-8 victory.
“Don’t be a hero,’’ Abreu said, calling Renteria and Schneider back to the mound before they got to the third-base line.
“I asked him about his shoulder and elbow, and he said, ‘No, I’m fine, man,’ ’’ Renteria said. “It was his side. But I didn’t ask him about that, so he was being honest.’’
“When Ricky left, Abreu asked if I was sure everything was good,’’ Lopez said. “I told him my side was kind of sore. And he called Rick again.’’
Lopez, who was at 89 pitches, said he could pitch through it.
But Abreu said, ‘‘No, you’re young enough. You’re going to have a lot more opportunities. This is not a time to mess around with it. Take the rest and get ready for the next start.’’
In addition to stepping up as a leader as he often does, Abreu also hit his team-high 23rd homer and drove in two runs with a single to give him a team-best 75 RBI.
As the Sox (45-73) build for the future, Abreu is aware of what’s going on. Rated as the Sox’ No. 6 prospect and No. 59 overall by MLB.com, Lopez pitched six innings of two-run ball in his Sox debut last Friday against the Royals. He had an uneven outing against the Rangers, striking out six, walking four and allowing five hits, including a home run to No. 9 batter Brett Nicholas in the Rangers’ four-run third. Lopez followed that inning with a perfect fourth, including two strikeouts.
He was replaced by Chris Beck, who suffered a bruised right shoulder when he took a smash off the bat of Adrian Beltre. Beck then allowed a tiebreaking three-run homer to Nomar Mazara and was removed because of the injury.
While Lopez (4„ innings, six runs, five earned) was making his second start for the Sox, a former teammate in the Nationals’ system and most recently Class AAA Charlotte was inching closer to the majors.
Right-hander Lucas Giolito, who came from the Nats with Lopez and another righty, Dane Dunning, in the Adam Eaton trade, is close to getting called up.
“He’s not far off,’’ Sox director of player development Chris Getz said.
And that was said a couple of hours before Giolito, the No. 60 prospect, according to MLB.com, threw six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts Wednesday against Toledo. Giolito (6-10, 4.48 ERA) is 3-1 with a 1.71 ERA in his last five starts.
“He’s in a good place,’’ Getz said. “When you look at pitchers’ fastball command, that will kind of let you know how close they are. He’s improved in that area.’’
When Yoan Moncada was called up July 19, it marked the first step of the second phase of the Sox’ rebuild, the first phase being the acquisition of 19 prospects for 10 veterans in trades. Moncada (.190 batting average) walked twice and hit his third homer, raising his on-base percentage to .333.
Another rookie, Nicky Delmonico, saw his on-base streak to start his career end at 13 games.
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