HOUSTON — The White Sox lost yet another outfielder Thursday when Adam Eaton landed on the 10-day injured list with a strained right hamstring.
Right-hander Zack Burdi was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte as the Sox opened a four-game series against the Astros.
Eaton, 32, is batting .147 with two homers his last 34 games and has been dealing with leg issues for much of the season. He missed a four-game series against the Orioles in late May with a tight right hamstring.
“Before we get deeper into the season, just get him well,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He’s dealt with it, he’s gone out there like a good competitor and it takes away from his game. The decision was made, just get him well.”
Signed to one-year, $7 million contract in the offseason, Eaton is batting .195 with five home runs, 27 RBI and 30 runs scored.
Eaton’s injury means the entire projected 2021 starting outfield is on the IL, with Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert likely out until at least August. Billy Hamilton is also on the IL with an oblique strain. Adam Engel, the projected fourth outfielder, injured his hamstring during spring training, didn’t return until this month and is not playing consecutive games yet.
Despite those losses, the Sox entered Thursday tied for the best record in the majors.
Burdi, 26, had a 5.59 ERA in 9⅔ relief innings at Charlotte. He gave up two runs in three innings against the Red Sox on April 19 in his only big-league appearance this season.
The versatility of the Sox’ bench allows them to go with an extra pitcher, a plus with four games in Houston against a good hitting team.
Jimenez and Robert gone
Word this week that Jimenez (torn pectoral muscle) resumed baseball activity renewed hope the left fielder could return by August. Robert (hip flexor strain) hasn’t reached that stage yet, but indications are an August return is possible for him, as well.
“We’re not to the point yet where we’re ready to declare Eloy’s back on such-and-such a date,” general manager Rick Hahn said Wednesday. “It’s trending the right way … certainly very optimistic that both will contribute this year.”
Getting Yermin untracked
After winning AL Rookie of the Month honors in April, Yermin Mercedes batted .221/.292/.326 in May and was 6-for-56 with no homers and five RBI in his last 16 games.
“He’s still fighting it,” La Russa said. “He still has that beautiful smile, but he’s not the same. It’s bothering him.”
La Russa suggested Mercedes and other young Sox hitters watch Astros Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa take batting practice.
“They don’t try to hit the ball on the railroad tracks,” La Russa said. “My long-winded way of saying batting practice would be an important test for him. Spray the ball all over the field, get hits all over. But it’s like old Fenway, tempting, guys go in there … and it screws up their swing for that series and the ones to come. Yermin needs to stay square, hit the ball wherever it goes and the power will be there. But we need consistent hard contact.”