SURPRISE, Ariz. — While manager Rick Renteria downplayed a back issue that has sidelined left-hander Jace Fry, any setback related to the back is always cause for concern. Fry is the White Sox’ second-best option from the left side behind Aaron Bummer, and there isn’t much behind him, so this one probably shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“He’s just recovering [from] a little sore back,” Renteria said. “So we’ve been dealing with that. Kind of controlling his activity. But he’s doing well.”
Renteria wasn’t sure when Fry will resume throwing but said “he’s starting to move around and feels better.”
On Thursday, Fry said he took four days off throwing.
‘‘Just a sore, tight lower back,” he said. “It feels good. I’ve been throwing again and plan to get on the mound at the end of this week. We’re not really worried about it.”
Fry had a 4.75 ERA in a team-high 68 appearances in 2019 after compiling a 4.38 ERA in 59 games in 2018. He was second among American League lefties in appearances last season.
The Sox have limited left-handed reliever depth. Adalberto Mejia, who made the Twins’ Opening Day roster as a reliever last season, was signed as a non-roster invitee this offseason and might be the next man up.
Mejia, who has a 4.62 career ERA in 62 games, including 25 starts, is slated to pitch an inning against the Mariners on Thursday.
Fry does have time on his side. Opening Day (March 26) was one month away Wednesday. But his health does bear watching.
“Everybody who has ever had a sore back . . . you have to continue to strengthen the core and do anything you can to stabilize things,” Renteria said.
Eye on Burdi
Zack Burdi’s first competitive inning in eight months Tuesday was a success. One clean inning against the Giants, with no strikeouts and no walks? He’ll take it.
“This is the best I’ve felt since 2016, ’17,” said Burdi, who is coming off knee surgery after coming off Tommy John surgery. “It felt like every day I was trying to hurdle over another thing going on with my body. [Now] I don’t have to worry about that; just go out there and compete and worry about more so what I want to do against this hitter and how I’m going to sequence. Just a feeling I haven’t felt in a while.”
Burdi, whose 100 mph velocity helped get him drafted 20th overall out of Louisville in 2016, was consistently at 96 mph.
“I’m not sure; I looked back a couple of times and saw  and , and that’s encouraging,” he said. “It will be interesting to see what happens these next four weeks.”
Burdi said he’s still working on increasing his leg strength, “which will help a lot.” He likely needs a base of innings at Class AAA Charlotte before being considered for a call-up to the majors.
Luis Robert slid headfirst on his triple against the Giants on Tuesday, which, considering his history of hand and thumb injuries, is cause to cringe. Robert has worn a protective mitt on the bases but not from the batter’s box, of course.
“I always hold my breath a little bit on a headfirst slide,” Renteria said. “We work and talk about sliding with your feet, but anytime you start trying to take away what comes naturally to a player, it could throw things off, and you’re looking at something else that might happen.”