Watching your teammates play isn’t the same as competing yourself, and rehabbing White Sox outfielder Adam Engel is glad to be playing again, even if it’s with Triple-A Charlotte.
“It’s nice to get a little adrenaline pumping,” Engel said. “It’s been awhile since I felt the adrenaline while I’m participating. I felt some adrenaline watching the games in Chicago, but it’s nice to get a little bit of a pulse and go out and try to perform.”
Friday night was Engel’s third game with the Knights and his second in center field as he works his way back to the Sox following a hamstring injury; he entered the game against Norfolk hitting 3-for-8 with a home run and went 2-for-4 from the leadoff spot Friday with two RBI, including a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.
After originally straining the ham-string in spring training in March, Engel had a setback in rehab that took the strain from Grade 2 to 3. Considering what’s happened to the Sox’ outfield since he first got hurt, they could use him as soon as possible. Both Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez are out long-term, and the Sox are scraping by.
Engel, known more for his glove than his bat, showed progress at the plate in the shortened 2020 season and will be a boost when he returns. He said Friday he’s feeling more and more competitive.
“If I were to get the call tonight, ‘Hey, you’re going back to Chicago,’ I think I’d be ready to contribute,” he said. “I’m not in midseason form yet by any means offensively, but I feel like I’m in a pretty good spot.”
Engel’s previous bench role with the Sox is one reason he’s confident it won’t take him long to get back into form quickly. He has experience trying to contribute despite not getting regular at-bats, and his uncomplicated swing and hitting setup allow him to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
“I don’t think it’s going to take a real long time to get to that place where guys are at now — hopefully shorter than the average player,” he said.
Because of the nature of his injury, Engel was able to take swings before he could run and says he’s further along at the plate than in the field because of that. Not that he’s worried about getting ready defensively.
“It’s good to get back out there, get some reads, try and make some quick moves towards balls in the gap and things like that,” he said. “Leg’s feeling really good, and I continue to build and hope to get back to Chicago pretty soon.”
The relative lack of work means the Sox’ medical staff is monitoring his workload. The last thing they want is another injury or setback — although Engel has been told he’s unlikely to reinjure himself even if he still experiences pain for a while. There shouldn’t be anything on the field he can’t do, and if he feels like he can’t do something, he’ll just need to work on it a little more.
“I’m not super concerned about any particular movement out on the field,” he said.