DENVER — After it was revealed that right-hander Reynaldo Lopez would be unavailable to pitch because of a sore back, the White Sox lost another important piece to their bullpen in their 6-5 loss to the Rockies on Wednesday.
Right-hander Joe Kelly, after striking out Kris Bryant for the second out in the eighth inning while protecting a 5-4 lead, shook his right arm and walked off. The Sox said he had discomfort in his right biceps.
Kelly, just rounding into form with seven consecutive scoreless outings, said the same nerve issue that caused him to miss the first five weeks of his first season with the Sox flared up but was better after the game.
He said the “zing” he felt that prompted him to leave was better and leaving the game “was more precautionary than anything.” The feeling returned in his arm after the game, Kelly said.
“I should be good to go,” Kelly said, adding there’s “no way” he’ll miss time and would be ready this weekend when the Sox return home to play the Athletics.
Manager Tony La Russa didn’t offer much on the severity of Lopez’s issue.
“I don’t know,” La Russa said. “He’s getting examined. He felt something in that last game he pitched for us. It may be just tightness.”
Lopez is a valuable piece of a bullpen in a variety of roles. The former starter has a 2.98 ERA, 44 strikeouts and eight walks in 42„ innings. He has pitched more than one inning in 13 of 37 appearances.
Help on the way?
General manager Rick Hahn identified bullpen help as a top priority before the trade deadline Tuesday, and now it seems to be a bigger priority than ever.
Right-hander Kendall Graveman, La Russa’s primary eighth-inning man, said the last two months of the season call for the right balance of relievers knowing when to push it and when to back off. Graveman pitched on back-to-back days Tuesday and Wednesday and didn’t have it in the ninth with closer Liam Hendriks unavailable.
“Felt good, but I didn’t get the job done today,” Graveman said. “It’s a shame because we played hard and had the lead. Walked three guys and gave up a hit. That can’t happen.”
In defense of Abreu’s defense
La Russa spoke highly before the game of first baseman Jose Abreu’s defense.
“I need somebody to tell me who is a better first baseman,” La Russa said. “There are some who are right there, but there is nobody better than Jose Abreu.”
La Russa says if “metrics people, fans and media don’t understand that he’s a Gold Glove candidate, then they’re missing it. He’s a master at balls in the dirt, he has a quick, accurate arm and he has range.”
Per FanGraphs’ defensive runs above average, Abreu ranks second to the Diamondbacks’ Christian Walker among first basemen with 650 innings played.
This and that
Jake Burger (bruised right hand) started a rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte.
† The Sox are honoring Hall of Famer Minnie Miñoso before Saturday’s 6:15 p.m. game against the Athletics. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats at least 30 minutes before the first pitch for a pregame ceremony honoring “Mr. White Sox” and the Miñoso family.
† Right-hander Vince Velasquez, on the injured list since July 6 with a blister on his index finger, is throwing a bullpen session Friday and getting closer to a return.