The White Sox have the best record in baseball at 43-25 after taking two out of three against the Rays at Guaranteed Rate Field, but are they strong enough to stand pat with the July 30 trade deadline looming?
Should they go for the jugular instead regardless?
“I think it’s the expectation,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “You want to maximize your chances to win. . . . Chances to win are sacred, and we’re going to treat this one accordingly.”
But the Sox — aiming for multiple World Series shots in this championship window — will be careful not to give away the farm. Also, it would help to have a more complete picture of what they have to work with.
They know second baseman Nick Madrigal is out for the rest of the season. They know Eloy Jimenez, who tore a pectoral muscle in left field in spring training, has resumed baseball activities at the team’s complex in Arizona but won’t be ready to rejoin the Sox’ lineup until at least August. They know less than that about center fielder Luis Robert and the strained hip flexor that has kept him under wraps since May 2.
“Over the course of this summer, for the next several weeks, we’re going to find out a lot more about what our own internal options are capable of doing,” Hahn said.
Hahn is “very optimistic” that Jimenez and Robert will play again this season. For Jimenez, the biggest hurdle likely will be discomfort in the extension of his swing. For Robert — who roams far, wide and ever so fast in the outfield — it’s about getting back up to full, unfettered running speed.
Whatever the Sox do, there’s going to be a great deal at stake.
“We’ve talked about it all along: making sure the juice is worth the squeeze,” Hahn said. “The juice this year may be a team that’s capable of winning it all, so that’s pretty big juice. Is the squeeze going to be worth it to increase those chances?”
Still a bit hamstrung
Reliever Michael Kopech threw a bullpen session Tuesday that had “a lot of positives to it,” according to manager Tony La Russa, but it’s still too soon to mark a return on the calendar. Kopech hasn’t pitched in a game since straining his left hamstring against the Cardinals on May 26.
“There’s just one little spot in his delivery where he feels it a little bit, and we’re not going to mess around,” Hahn said. “Until he feels 100% in his delivery, we’re just going to continue to treat and progress until we get there. But he’s in a good spot. There’s not long-term concern here.”
Rim shot, please
Overheard, Part 1: a fun, smart-alecky exchange between closer Liam Hendriks and Hahn as the latter prepared to give an on-camera interview with MLB Network near the Sox’ dugout.
“Don’t mess it up, Rick,” Hendriks said as he walked past.
“If I do, you can come in for the save, Liam,” Hahn replied.
Overheard, Part 2: a fan, seated in the 300 level just below the press box, giving himself the business after failing to catch a foul ball.
“I feel like a Cubs fan!” he shouted, drawing laughter from his neighbors.
ON DECK: SOX AT ASTROS
Thursday: Dylan Cease (5-2, 3.38 ERA) vs. Jose Urquidy (4-3, 3.77), 7:10 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM.
Friday: Carlos Rodon (6-2, 1.89) vs. Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.98), 7:10 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM.
Saturday: Lance Lynn (7-2, 1.51) vs. Framber Valdez (3-0, 1.42), 6:15 p.m., Fox-32, 1000-AM.
Sunday: Dallas Keuchel (6-1, 3.78) vs. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.89), 1:10 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM.