Rookie catcher Seby Zavala made history Saturday. He hit three home runs, including a fourth-inning grand slam, to become the first player to hit his first three homers in the same game. Zavala went 4-for-4 with six RBI.
“I got some pitches to handle, and I didn’t miss them,” Zavala said.
The White Sox have lacked power this season. Heading into the game, the Sox had 109 home runs, good for 25th in the majors. At the trade deadline, general manager Rick Hahn worked to address that need, picking up second baseman Cesar Hernandez and his 18 homers from the Indians.
“I always knew I could swing it,” Zavala said. “But [I went] through a rough patch for a couple of months. I knew if I kept working, something would click, and I feel pretty good at the plate.”
Brian Goodwin and Adam Engel also homered in the Sox’ 12-11 loss to the Indians.
The other big question after Friday’s trade deadline was whether the Sox had made the right moves by focusing on the bullpen. They got Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel for the late innings to help out Michael Kopech and Liam Hendriks.
When Dallas Keuchel left in the sixth inning, the Sox’ relievers were charged with protecting a three-run lead. But Kopech had an uncharacteristic night, allowing five runs and getting three outs between the sixth and seventh innings. Tepera allowed two inherited runs from Kopech to score in the seventh.
Before the game, manager Tony La Russa talked about the value of bringing in Kimbrel and Tepera and what that would mean for his late-inning game-planning as well as the chance for learning experiences for young pitchers such as Kopech.
“Having both of these guys is going to be really good for our young guys,” La Russa said. “Really can’t overestimate how important leadership by example can mean to not just the team, but the development of young pitchers and players.”
Kimbrel made his Sox debut in the ninth with his new team down by a run. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning with one strikeout.
Jimenez’s return date uncertain
La Russa said that Eloy Jimenez returning to the lineup Sunday, when the Sox conclude their series with the Indians, is highly doubtful. And even with a day off Monday, Jimenez isn’t certain to play as they begin a series with the Royals.
“We’ll keep our fingers crossed for Tuesday,” La Russa said.
Jimenez missed the first fourth months with a torn pectoral muscle and has been sidelined since leaving Wednesday’s game with groin tightness. He did some running in the outfield under the watch of the Sox’ training staff and took batting practice before the game.
Robert, Grandal progressing
Reports from Charlotte on Luis Robert’s progress have been positive, La Russa said, but he expects him to need more at-bats to regain his timing at the plate before returning.
Yasmani Grandal, out since July 5 with a torn tendon in his left knee, is working to make his return.
“We’re astounded at how much he’s doing,” La Russa said. “But from time to time, when he gets pushed, he gets some soreness. I don’t think there’s that day yet where his first rehab appearance would be written into a calendar.”