Sox outfielder Andrew Vaughn returns from injured list

Vaughn, who came down with COVID-19 in December and has been vaccinated, said he took five tests that came back negative.

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Andrew Vaughn (right) is back after being activated from the injured list.

AP Photos

The White Sox didn’t think Andrew Vaughn (COVID protocols) would be gone for long.

He wasn’t.

Activated from the injured list, he started Saturday against the Tigers in left field, going 1-for-4. Vaughn, who came down with COVID-19 in December and has been vaccinated, said he took five tests that came back negative.

“It’s definitely hectic, I would say that,” Vaughn said. “Better to be safe than sorry. That’s the biggest thing. We’re in 2021. It’s different times.”

Vaughn missed the doubleheader in Cleveland on Monday because of allergies, returned to the lineup Tuesday and was put on the IL on Thursday.

“That was a pain in the butt,” Vaughn said of the allergies. “I never really had allergies, and coming off the flight, it hit me. Hit me like a truck. And then the training staff had me take some good medicine. It cleared me up, and I was good to go.”

Infielder/outfielder Gavin Sheets was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

Uh-oh

Billy Hamilton was replaced to begin the fifth inning. During his at-bat in the fourth inning, Hamilton grabbed at his right side several times after swinging.

Manager Tony La Russa said it looked like an oblique issue and wasn’t optimistic that Hamilton would be available Sunday.

If Hamilton is out, it would deprive the Sox of a spark plug who brings speed and a valuable glove. But Hamilton’s replacement, Jake Lamb, responded with a two-run double in the sixth.

“He’s a huge presence on our team, but once that happened,” second baseman Nick Madrigal said, “the very next inning we were locked in right on the game, hoping to pull that one out.”

DH Grandal

As the Sox had sketched out earlier in the week, Yasmani Grandal served as the designated hitter, meaning Friday’s hero, Yermin Mercedes, was out of the lineup.

Before facing Tigers starter Tarik Skubal, Grandal only had 35 plate appearances against left-handers. But coming off a night game, Saturday’s 1:10 start was a good time to get Grandal off his feet. And with the Sox possibly seeing lefties against the Blue Jays, La Russa wanted Grandal to get more right-handed swings.

La Russa said he spoke with Mercedes about the decision Saturday and told him he’d be back in the lineup Sunday.

Mercedes pinch-hit for Zack Collins to end the eighth and stayed in the game to catch the ninth. It was Mercedes’ first time catching in a big-league game. He started 305 minor-league games behind the plate.

Pitching moves

The Sox flipped Carlos Rodon and Dylan Cease in the rotation, moving Cease to Sunday and Rodon to Tuesday against Toronto. The swap keeps Cease on regular rest and allows him to see a Tigers team he has dominated, going 6-0 with a 2.29 ERA in six career starts.

As for Rodon, it means he’ll be making his first start since throwing Monday against Cleveland. Rodon has started only twice this year on a regular four days. Five of his appearances have come with six days or more of rest as the Sox try to build him back up.

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