After what will be an 18-day absence to rest a fatigued shoulder, White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon will return from the injured list Thursday (2:07 p.m. CT) to start against the Blue Jays in the last game of a four-game series. Infielder Danny Mendick was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte to make room on the roster.
The Sox also said Thursday that right-hander Evan Marshall is starting an injury rehab assignment at Charlotte. Marshall has been on the injured list with a strained right flexor pronator since June 30.
Rodon last pitched against the Cubs on Aug. 7, when he struck out 11 in five scoreless innings, throwing 89 pitches. He landed on the 10-day injured list Aug. 11.
“We’ll watch him real close,” La Russa said Thursday. “We’ve got Michael [Kopech] geared up to replace him. We’ll all be watching if the ball is coming out good and he’s not having to labor through innings, then let him go a while. It’s important if you see where it gets to be a struggle that you don’t push him.”
Rodon said he didn’t recover well from that start but was feeling better just several days into the IL stint.
Rodon had been showing signs of needing a break. He lasted only four innings in his two previous outings before his last start, and he has averaged 5.14 innings in his last seven starts. A first-time All-Star, he attended the game July 13 but passed on pitching in it.
Experiencing good health after shoulder surgery in 2017 and Tommy John surgery in 2019, Rodon was 9-5 with a 2.38 ERA and 160 strikeouts in 109‰ innings when he got sidetracked to the IL. Pitching coach Ethan Katz said last week that days off on the schedule — Aug. 30 and Sept. 2, 6, 13, 27 and 30 — will afford extra days of rest for Rodon and other starters, as well.
Grandal’s return imminent
Catcher Yasmani Grandal, on the IL since July 6 after knee surgery, could return for the Cubs series this weekend at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Grandal was batting .321/.394/.464 through nine games of his rehab assignment at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.
“Everything has been positive so far,” La Russa said. “The decision will probably be made [Wednesday or Thursday] as far as when will I see him in Chicago. It’s imminent, but the official thing has not been decided.”
Anderson returns to lineup
Shortstop Tim Anderson returned after resting his legs for four games.
La Russa said the rigors of a full season for all, after a 60-game season in 2020, warrant special attention to health and being more cautious.
“There have been times we’ve shut down our running game, the stolen base, to protect the legs,” La Russa said. “The strategy was, [yes] if it’s a stolen base to win the game, but most times we’ve been very careful about pushing guys.’’
Yoan Moncada, for example, has five stolen-base attempts. La Russa at times has been cautious about starting runners on 3-2 counts with less than two outs.
“That’s one concession to being concerned about the injuries,” he said.
Bring on the Cubs
Probable pitchers for the Cubs series: Friday, Keegan Thompson vs. Dallas Keuchel; Saturday, Alec Mills vs. Lance Lynn; Sunday, Kyle Hendricks vs. Dylan Cease. The Sox swept the series at Wrigley Field three weekends ago, outscoring the Cubs 21-9.
After Liam Hendriks needed 39 pitches to get through eight Jays for a five-out save Tuesday, La Russa said Craig Kimbrel would have the ninth inning not only Wednesday but possibly Thursday afternoon, as well.
Kimbrel has been targeted to pitch the ninth before, but a save situation didn’t present itself.
“This might be the third, fourth time this situation has come up,” La Russa said. “Let’s hope we can get the lead.”