White Sox’ Andrew Vaughn responds to leadoff role with home run on first pitch

Vaughn led off the White Sox’ game against the Orioles with a homer to right field.

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The White Sox’ Andrew Vaughn hit his 14th homer leading off the first inning Thursday.

The White Sox’ Andrew Vaughn gestures after hitting a leadoff home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning of Thursday’s game.

Julio Cortez/AP

BALTIMORE — Andrew Vaughn led off as a first baseman during college at Cal ‘‘a few times,’’ he said, and that was good enough for manager Tony La Russa.

La Russa inserted Vaughn, a .293/.344/.456 hitter and the Sox’ RBI leader with 60 entering play Thursday, in the top spot of the lineup against the Orioles.

Vaughn showed he was up to the task, belting right-hander Jordan Lyles’ first pitch to right-center field for a home run. He then doubled off the left-field wall near the 384-foot sign in the third inning and finished 2-for-4 in the Sox’ 4-3, 11-inning loss.

‘‘Hopefully get the party started for the boys, and hopefully we win today,’’ Vaughn said before the game.

Before posting the lineup, Vaughn said La Russa told him, ‘‘Just do your thing.’’

With regular leadoff man Tim Anderson (finger surgery) on the injured list and AJ Pollock getting a day off, Vaughn was the pick to bat first. Left-handed-hitting right fielder Gavin Sheets — who had five hits in the first two games of the series, then went 3-for-5 on Thursday — batted second.

The lineup was molded around the new 3-4-5 combo of Luis Robert, Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez as La Russa looks to spark some offense.

‘‘Mostly, I like 3-4-5,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘It gives our run producers a chance to hit with runners on base, and Andrew is one of the best at doing that.’’

The Sox had 10 or more hits in each of their previous three games, but they averaged four runs and lost twice.

‘‘We definitely want to cash in,’’ Vaughn said. ‘‘Get guys on base, get them in. That’s how you win ballgames — score runs. We’ve got to try to take advantage of those opportunities.’’

Grandal, Garcia headed to Charlotte

Catcher Yasmani Grandal and utility player Leury Garcia left for Triple-A Charlotte to begin rehab assignments. Grandal feels good after hyperextending his right knee Saturday against the Guardians, and Garcia’s back and hip are pain-free.

Grandal, who has struggled with a .203/.307/.259 hitting line with three homers in 74 games, is eligible to come off the IL on Wednesday. Garcia’s 10-day stint expires Saturday.

‘‘See them next week,’’ La Russa said.

Grandal was also on the IL from June 12 to July 22 with lower-back spasms. He batted .337/.481/.673 with nine home runs in his last 30 games last season after coming back from a torn tendon in his left knee.

Grandal established career highs in on-base (.420) and slugging percentage (.520) in 2021, and a struggling Sox lineup is crying out for that type of production. But it remains to be seen what he has left after battling multiple physical problems the last two seasons.

‘‘I just take it as it comes right now,’’ Grandal said Wednesday. ‘‘Whatever happens, happens. I’ve never really taken care of myself as much as I’ve taken care of myself this year. So from now on, [bleep] it. That’s pretty much the only way I can explain it.’’

Eloy returns

La Russa said Jimenez, who didn’t play Wednesday after getting hit in the left elbow by a 102 mph pitch Tuesday, arrived early, worked out and ‘‘got the green light’’ to play.

Robert, who took some uncomfortable swings his last time up Wednesday because of some discomfort in his left wrist, was good to go, La Russa said, but he took a one-handed swing while hitting into a double play to end the third after a double by Vaughn and a single by Sheets.

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