Luis Robert knows where the White Sox stand in the AL Central, and the scope of the task at hand. They entered their game against the Tigers on Thursday trailing the first-place Twins in the AL Central by 51⁄2 games.
But Robert, as Michael Kopech and other teammates also expressed recently, said the Sox clubhouse remains collected.
“As a team we’re still confident,” Robert told the Sun-Times through translator Billy Russo recently. “We know there is plenty of season to play, the entire second half. We have a lot of games against division rivals. We’re positive. We are not panicking.”
The chiseled 6-2 Cuban known as “La Pantera” is doing his share to keep the Sox (39-41) afloat, regularly batting third in manager Tony La Russa’s lineup and playing center field. After missing a week in late May on the COVID IL, Robert played in 26 of the Sox’ 27 games in June and hasn’t missed a game in July. With 65 games played — Robert missed a week in late April with a groin strain — Robert is second to Jose Abreu (78) on the team.
La Russa said Robert doesn’t want days off.
“I feel good and my health is good, so I like to be in the lineup every day,” said Robert, who was limited to 68 games last season because of a torn hip flexor suffered in May. “That’s why we’re here, right? We have to deal with soreness and discomfort, but you take care of it with treatment and deal with it.”
Robert, who played in 56 of the Sox’ 60 games in the abbreviated 2020 season when he was second in Rookie of the Year voting and won a Gold Glove, is now three games shy of his career high.
Robert said he doesn’t go out much during the season. Video games and Cuban music are his primary modes of relaxation. During the offseason, he enjoys being with family and driving his collection of high-end cars — a Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Ferrari.
“I like to be at home, especially during the season,” he said. “My season is home to the ballpark, or hotel to the ballpark. I like to relax.”
Robert carried a .289/.321/.425 hitting line with a .745 OPS into Thursday’s game. At 1.7 wins above replacement per Baseball Reference, he ranks third on the team behind Abreu (2.2) and Dylan Cease (2.0). Robert hit his ninth home run in the Sox’ 9-8 win in 10 innings against the Twins on Wednesday. His goals and personal expectations are lofty, so he classifies his production to date simply “good.”
“I’ve had some ups and downs and there have been moments of inconsistency but that’s the norms of a season,” he said. “I try to do my best every day — do my job and try to be productive.”