HOUSTON — White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada missed the series against the Rays this week and, while he returned to the lineup Thursday to face the Astros, still wasn’t feeling 100%.
The Sox said he had a sinus infection, but what Moncada felt reminded him of when he tested positive last year for the coronavirus. He had body aches, briefly lost his senses of taste and smell and still is feeling slightly weaker than normal.
‘‘I was a little worried,’’ said Moncada, whose fears were alleviated when he tested negative for COVID-19.
On his first chance in the field Thursday, Moncada short-hopped second baseman Danny Mendick while trying to start a double play and was charged with an error. But Moncada knows he belongs on the field even when he’s not at 100%.
‘‘The team needs me,’’ Moncada said. ‘‘Even though I’m not 100%, I can still help this team. I just need to find a way to start feeling better and stronger, and that’s what I’m working on with the trainers.’’
Moncada is performing like he did in 2019, when he was the Sox’ top position player in wins above replacement. He’s batting .276/.400/.403 with five home runs, 32 RBI and 31 runs scored. He’s second among American League third basemen in All-Star voting behind the Red Sox’ Rafael Devers.
‘‘That would be a blessing,’’Moncada said of being an All-Star for the first time.
But Moncada said his primary focus is on helping the team win games.
‘‘We’re a team, and I know that the easy response would be, ‘I don’t want to play,’ ’’ Moncada said. ‘‘But, no, I want to play. I want to help this team. I want to help my teammates to win games. And that’s why I have to find a way to get through this.’’
Garcia OUT with sore knee
Utility player Leury Garcia, who is batting .327 with seven RBI and eight walks in his last 16 games, has a right sore knee, manager Tony La Russa revealed, and was out of the lineup for a second consecutive night.
The Sox’ bench was already thinner than usual after right-hander Zack Burdi was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to bolster the relief corps for this series. Burdi came up when outfielder Adam Eaton went on the 10-day injured list with a strained hamstring.
Slumping designated hitter Yermin Mercedes and outfielder Adam Engel, who has been playing every other day as he eases his way back from his hamstring injury, were the only available position players on the bench.
Outfielder Billy Hamilton (strained oblique) is with the Sox and ‘‘felt a little pinch’’ taking a swing Thursday, La Russa said, an indication his return is not near. Hamilton probably will need a short rehab assignment once he returns to 100%.
Third-base prospect Jake Burger, a first-round draft choice in 2017 coming back from two Achilles injuries, started at second base Thursday for Triple-A Charlotte.
‘‘You want to make sure there’s different ways, if he earns a promotion, to get in the lineup,’’ La Russa said.
Burger is batting .264/.304/.535 with eight homers for Charlotte.