At long last, White Sox outfielder Adam Engel is headed to a minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte this week.
After suffering a strained hamstring in spring training, Engel had a setback while working his way back, suffering a Grade 3 tear and lengthening his absence at a time the Sox least could afford it.
Left fielder Eloy Jimenez suffered a torn pectoral muscle in spring training and center fielder Luis Robert a torn hip flexor this month. Without Engel, their fourth outfielder and a former Gold Glove finalist as a center fielder, the Sox have mixed and matched with an outfield group that includes super-utility player Leury Garcia, converted first baseman Andrew Vaughn, infielders Jake Lamb and Danny Mendick and veteran Billy Hamilton, who had been let go by the Indians in spring training.
‘‘If you were to tell me that Vaughn, [Garcia] and Lamb are our starting outfield in Game 45 [or] 50, you’d win a lot of money in Vegas,’’ Sox left-hander Dallas Keuchel said. ‘‘But this team doesn’t surprise me. We just keep on chugging.’’
Engel should return to the Sox in about a week. His first rehab game will be Tuesday, when Charlotte plays at Norfolk.
‘‘The outfield was going to be one of this team’s strengths and a really steady part of the production aspect of this club, not only from the defensive standpoint but offensively,’’ Engel said. ‘‘Having lost three outfielders, essentially, that’s tough. It’s been tough to sit by and not be able to do my job.’’
Manager Tony La Russa said Engel will be a boost defensively and offensively, but ‘‘how often he plays, we’re going to watch it carefully day-to-day.’’
Right fielder Adam Eaton started in the more spacious left field in the series finale at Yankee Stadium, with Lamb playing right field for the first time in his career. Lamb, a corner infielder by trade, has played seven career games in left field, all this season.
Eaton began preparing for the switch Friday.
‘‘If you look at the way the stadium is configured, left field is the real challenge, more so than center, certainly than right,’’ La Russa said.
After Vaughn pinch-hit for Eaton and homered in the ninth inning, he finished the game in right field with Mendick in left.
La Russa, Cardinals reunion
La Russa will face the team he last managed — in 2011 — when the Sox host the Cardinals for three games starting Monday.
‘‘Recognize the birds on the bat,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but once you prepare for the game, once you play the game, you’ve got to tune out the distraction. It’s a good distraction, but you’ve got to tune it out. I’m sure they will, too.’’
La Russa managed 16 seasons in St. Louis, winning the World Series in 2006 and 2011.
Right-hander Lucas Giolito will oppose Harvard-Westlake (California) High School teammate Jack Flaherty when the Sox host the Cardinals on Tuesday. Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz was their coach in high school.