Not a day, it seems, and certainly not a week, goes by without fresh White Sox injury news.
On Tuesday, the team returned home after a 2-8 road trip to announce that one of the hottest hitters in baseball, Avisail Garcia, was returning to the disabled list. From the minor-league side, in the land where the Sox’ future rests, general manager Rick Hahn said outfield prospect Micker Adolfo suffered a setback in his throwing program and will undergo Tommy John surgery and be out eight to 10 months.
This wasn’t a stunner. Adolfo suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament during spring training. Rather than go under the knife, he got 334 plate appearances at Class A Winston-Salem (where he batted .283/.368./466 with 11 homers and 50 RBI) as a designated hitter to keep the offensive side of his development moving, knowing the surgery was possible.
But still, how much more can a team take — especially one that fell to 30-61 on Tuesday night with a 14-2 loss to the visiting Cardinals? Even pitching coach Don Cooper was out Tuesday after having minor surgery on his hand.
It’s been that kind of year.
Garcia going to the DL with a hamstring strain wasn’t a surprise, either, not after seeing him slow up running down the first-base line in Houston on Sunday.
Under different circumstances, this might have been a nice time to call up Eloy Jimenez, the Sox’ prized outfield prospect, but Jimenez needs seven to 10 days before returning from the adductor strain that sidelined him and silenced any buzz about a possible July call-up.
The injuries to prospects — almost too numerous to list, and coupled with the major-league team’s performance — have been a reality check about the Sox becoming contenders in the next two seasons.
“It’s been a tough year from a health standpoint,” Hahn said. “At the same time, we know if you have a great number of prospects, the odds of some or multiple of them getting hurt are higher.
“[It also] reinforces some of the tenets or mantra you’ve heard us repeat from the start of this entire rebuild, going back the last 18 months. We need to build depth, enough redundancy within our own system, so when things like this happen, we have alternatives.”
On the field, the struggles continued on the first night of a five-game homestand. Shortstop Tim Anderson’s error on a routine ground ball led to an unearned run in the fifth, and in a seven-run sixth, the Cardinals blew it open on .167 hitter Dexter Fowler’s grand slam against Hector Santiago. The inning also included runs on Omar Narvaez’s passed ball, reliever Bruce Rondon’s wild pitch between Narvaez’s feet, and a bases-loaded walk by Rondon — one of his three free passes.
There’s a long ways to go, but Hahn says the injuries to the aforementioned players, as well as to Jake Burger, Dane Dunning, Luis Robert and Zack Burdi, to name a few more, don’t alter the outlook for when the Sox will be competitive.
“It’s not like a start date that [on] this specific time, on this specific date, we need to be ready to win,” Hahn said. “It’s more [that] during this timeframe, we expect to be in a position to contend annually. Obviously, on certain players who haven’t been able to give us full seasons, the jury might still be out going into next offseason on exactly how and when they matriculate to being contributing big-leaguers on a championship club. But in general, the breadth and the depth of the prospects and the ceilings of the prospects still keep us on relatively the same timeframe that we put out there.
“Until these guys get to Chicago, though, and are performing in Chicago, and we’ve augmented them properly through free agency or trades, it’s impossible to say they’re going to start winning on this date. There’s still work that needs to be done.”