Not that it was a huge concern, but all is well in the White Sox’ clubhouse, which already was tight in spring training and has bonded even more since the Yermin Mercedes flap.
Players have rallied around the rookie Mercedes since he was called out by manager Tony La Russa for missing a take sign and swinging at a 3-0 pitch, but veteran right-hander Evan Marshall said they remain respectful of their 76-year-old Hall of Fame skipper.
“I’ve never seen the clubhouse tighter,” Marshall told the Sun-Times on Wednesday. “With what went down in Minnesota, that’s not enough to cause a rift or void. Tony is our guy. But in the end, the players did rally together. We’re a tight family.”
As shortstop Tim Anderson said, “Tony is like the dad, we’re like his kids. We’re like the bad kids that don’t listen. But we all get along.”
“I liked TA’s quote,” Marshall said. “That’s just the nature of it. But there is always mutual respect. And Tony’s door is always open, you can go in there and air it out if you need to. But that hasn’t been the case for anybody.”
La Russa has designated a core group of veterans — Jose Abreu, Anderson, Dallas Keuchel, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Adam Eaton and Yoan Moncada — to take on leadership roles in handling a variety of issues, including ordinary things such as dress codes and protocols for travel days.
“He just wants us to make the decisions so he can take care of baseball and worry about what happens between the lines and not have to worry about stuff like that,” Marshall said. “That has worked out well, and it really takes a veteran manager to have his trust in his veteran players to handle things that need to be handled.”
Engel won’t be rushed
Outfielder Adam Engel, who homered in his first rehab game at Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday, might have enough at-bats in a week to be ready to rejoin the team, but La Russa suggested it could be longer than that.
“I’ve gone through this my whole career, guys want to come back as soon as they start feeling good,” La Russa said. “He’s feeling good, but he needs his timing. So we’ll watch very closely.”
Engel is working his way back from a strained hamstring. Asked if a week might not be long enough, La Russa said, “If I answer that, he won’t like the answer.”
The Sox, playing without injured outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, saw Eaton leave the game Wednesday with a tight hamstring.
They continue to piece things together. Andrew Vaughn is handling left field better than anyone might have imagined in his transition from first base, and Leury Garcia and Billy Hamilton have taken care of center.
La Russa’s Lounge
A seating area at Guaranteed Rate Field, previously named for Loretta Micele, who worked concessions for the Sox for 60 years, was renamed “La RUSSA’s LOUNGE.” Micele, a Bridgeport native, was hired in 1945 at old Comiskey Park and worked the 2005 World Series at age 85.
A plaque in Micele’s memory is still there, and the Sox are considering other ways to honor her.