Avila has a blast upon return from DL in Sox’ win

SHARE Avila has a blast upon return from DL in Sox’ win
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Third-base coach Joe McEwing congratulates Alex Avila, who hit a solo home run Saturday night in the fifth inning off Mariners reliever Vidal Nuno. | Jon Durr/Getty Images

Catcher Alex Avila returned from the disabled list for the second time this season, starting Saturday in his first game since July 5.

Avila has journeyed through a difficult 2016 season, hitting the disabled list April 24 with a strained right hamstring, then going back on with the same injury after running out a ground ball against the Yankees.

Avila neared a return late last month before suffering a setback during a rehab assignment. He suffered more damage to the hamstring and missed five more weeks.

“It definitely took longer than I expected it to,” Avila said. “But, at the same time, I couldn’t jeopardize coming back and reinjuring it again. At this point in the season, I’m definitely ready to play and can get through the last few games.

“It’s been a rough few weeks personally, but sometimes there’s things you can’t control, and you’ve got to make sure you let Mother Nature take its course and play that out.”

Avila, who’s batting .238, hit a solo home run and went 1-for-3. He was activated Friday after the White Sox shipped catcher Dioner Navarro to the Blue Jays for minor-league pitcher Colton Turner.

“He has worked hard to get back to where he was,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Even when he came back, to have an injury happen fairly quickly, that’s the part of baseball that’s tough. You get back, and something like that happens. You don’t really plan for it.”

Avila, 29, will share catching duties with 25-year-old rookie Omar Narvaez for the rest of the season.

Ventura not worried about Sale

Chris Sale has thrown 120 pitches in each of his last two starts, but Ventura doesn’t seem inclined to hit the brakes on the five-time All-Star.

“He has been stronger in each of his starts,” Ventura said. “I think in the past, if he would’ve thrown this many pitches, you’d sit there and think there’s a chance of maybe giving him an extra day and sticking somebody in there. But he has been extremely strong every time he’s gone up there in pitch counts.”

Ventura will have some decisions to make with his rotation upon the eventual return of Miguel Gonzalez from injury and the possible addition of Carson Fulmer when rosters expand in September.

Ventura said he and pitching coach Don Cooper have been discussing what to do but haven’t made any decisions, including whether to go to a six-man rotation.

“I know those guys will be in there at some point to get their starts,” Ventura said. “How we do it when they’re in there, we haven’t really nailed that down. It’s an open dialogue at this point of being able to figure out the right spot to get them back in there.”

Bad luck for Sale

Sale joined Hall of Famer Randy Johnson as the only pitchers in major-league history to have multiple games with 14 or more strikeouts and no walks in a team loss. Sale and the Sox lost 3-1 to the Mariners on Friday.

Since 2013, Sale has struck out 10 batters or more 13 times in Sox losses.

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