White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease was glad to see center fielder Adam Engel back in the lineup Sunday against the Tigers. And on the rare occasion Cease needed help, Engel provided the assistance.
Cease struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory. Engel, making his season debut after being activated Sunday from the injured list, leapt to take away a home run from Niko Goodrum in the fifth, made a running catch on a sinking liner by Akil Baddoo to begin the game and even stole a base.
“That was probably the most incredible catch I’ve ever had behind me,” Cease said of Engel’s play in the fifth. “He made a couple great plays, and I couldn’t be happier to have him back. You know what you’re -going to get out of Adam.”
When Cease faces the Tigers, the Sox know what they’re going to get from him.
Cease improved to 7-0 with a 1.91 ERA in seven career starts against the Tigers. He said he had at least three of his pitches working for strikes, bouncing back well from his start June 1 in Cleveland, where he allowed six runs in 3⅓ innings.
“Came in with a good plan, and to execute that many pitches is what I’m here for,” Cease said.
Engel is with the Sox to provide defense, speed and chip in offense with his right-handed bat. He is known for taking away home runs, and he didn’t need long to do that this year after his return following a right hamstring issue.
“As a defender, that’s our job, to go out there and make your pitcher feel comfortable,” Engel said. “Let him know if he does his job and throws strikes, we are going to do our job and play good defense behind him.”
While Engel returned, center fielder Billy Hamilton went on the injured list with a right oblique strain. Hamilton, who was developing a niche as a spark plug, was seen grabbing his right side during his fourth-inning at-bat Saturday.
Latest on Kopech, Fry
Michael Kopech, on the 10-day IL with a strained left hamstring since May 31 (retroactive to May 28), is having normal soreness but responding “very well” to a ramped-up throwing program, manager Tony La Russa said.
La Russa said there isn’t a final determination of when the team will activate Kopech, but he’s progressing and “everything is going in the right direction.”
As for left-handed reliever Jace Fry (microdiscectomy), he entered Sunday with no ERA in five innings during his rehab stint at Triple-A Charlotte. La Russa said that the Sox could use him but that Fry is being careful.
“We are optimistic, but it’s slow play,” La Russa said.
Abreu gets a breather
The Sox gave Jose Abreu a day off to rest, which is effectively two days off because of the open date Monday. Abreu is 4-for-26 in his last eight games, and he struck out twice in Saturday’s loss. Andrew Vaughn started at first for the fifth time.