Forgive Nicky Delmonico if he seems a little clumsy these days.
His broken right hand is in a cast, and doctors have warned him not to use it for at least a week. They want to prevent any setbacks in his recovery from the injury, which was caused by a 92 mph fastball from Rangers pitcher Matt Moore last Friday night.
So the White Sox outfielder is trying to navigate life with his left hand. Let’s just say team mascot Southpaw shouldn’t worry about his job security.
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“I’m terrible right now,” Delmonico said with a grin Monday as he stood in front of his locker. “I’m learning how to do everything again. I feel like a baby. Tying my shoes, getting help with my socks, everything.”
Swinging a bat — which Delmonico does left-handed — is out of the question.
The 25-year-old projects an upbeat attitude despite the injury. He’s expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks, which puts him on track to return between mid-June and early July.
By then, about half the season will be finished. The opportunity lost by sitting out is as painful as any bone break for Delmonico, who has struggled to replicate the success of his rookie campaign on the South Side. In 37 games, he’s hitting .224 with one home run and seven RBI. His wins-above-replacement value is 0.0.
Those numbers are a dip from last season, when he hit .262 with nine home runs and 23 RBI in 43 games after his call-up from Class AAA Charlotte on Aug. 1. His WAR value was 1.1 despite spending most of the year in the minors.
“I’ve just got to continue playing hard and also learn from those first six weeks and see how they’re pitching me,” Delmonico said. “It will be a great time for me to kind of learn and watch a lot of video.”
Sox manager Rick Renteria said Delmonico could benefit in the long term from this absence.
“Players always gain a lot of knowledge when they’re sitting on the bench,” Renteria said. “He’s a good teammate. This kid cheers for his buddies out there.
“I think that when he comes to the ballgame, he puts on his thinking cap and watches all the things going on, the strategies, the actions that are occurring — even observing other players and seeing what they do and how they react.”
Delmonico underwent additional X-rays on Monday that showed his third metacarpal remained in proper position to heal. He’s scheduled for another round of X-rays in 10 days.
In the meantime, he’s icing the broken hand and preparing for bone stimulation treatment.
“It’s just something that you put over the top of your skin,” Delmonico said. “I guess [it’s electric]. I haven’t used it yet.”
Teammate Leury Garcia has started all three games in left field since Delmonico went down. Fellow outfielders Daniel Palka and Adam Engel also could help fill the void, but all signs point toward Delmonico reclaiming his every-day job when he returns.
He’s eager to put the injury — and the slow start — behind him.
“I knew as soon as I couldn’t take my glove off that there was something bad,” he said of the injury. “And then when they got it off and I saw the welt, I knew it was probably broken.
“It’s tough. You definitely never want to break your hand. But everything happens for a reason. You’ve just got to stay positive and get ready to come back.”