White Sox rookie Andrew Vaughn hasn’t played in the Cubs-Sox crosstown series, and he hasn’t heard much about it, either.
“The only thing I really know is the fans can get a little hectic on each other — Sox and Cubs,” Vaughn said. “Heard that. But we’ve just got to go out there and put on a good show and try to bring some wins for the South Side.”
The Sox play three games at Wrigley Field this weekend and three more the last weekend of August at Guaranteed Rate Field. The Sox have a big lead in the American League Central, and the Cubs traded their top stars last week — including closer Craig Kimbrel to the Sox — to signal the start of a rebuild.
The roles are reversed from only a few years ago, when the Sox were rebuilding and the Cubs were contending every year. For Sox manager Tony La Russa, the Cubs are just another team on the schedule.
“But it is also realistic that it’s a team in your city and there’s a lot of rabid interest from either side to beat the other side,” La Russa said. “I can remember the very first year, I think it was ’84, we played the Crosstown Classic, and I had a number of people say, ‘I don’t care what you do all season. Just don’t let the Cubs beat you in one game.’ ”
The dynamic adds some juice to a “road” game, La Russa said.
“It’s going to be in Chicago, and it’s against the Cubs,” he said. “So just enjoy it more than you would normally.”
Robert won’t make Wrigley series
Center fielder Luis Robert is very close to rejoining the team, La Russa said, with a decision to be made Sunday after he plays perhaps his final rehab game with Triple-A Charlotte.
“This weekend is an important test for him,” La Russa said. “It’s getting where it’s imminent.”
Robert, who homered for the Knights on Thursday, hasn’t played for the Sox since he tore his right hip flexor on May 2.
Corner infielder/outfielder Jake Lamb (quadriceps) is also due back “sooner rather than later,” La Russa said.
Eloy in left field vs. Cubs
Eloy Jimenez was the designated hitter for a third straight night Thursday after missing four games with a sore groin but will be in left field on Friday at Wrigley.
There is no DH in National League parks. La Russa said it’s possible Jimenez plays all three games of the Cubs series in left.
“But you’re really going to have to err on the side of caution,” he said.
Jimenez is batting .320/.414/.760 with three homers in seven games against the team that traded him in 2017.
Second baseman Cesar Hernandez, acquired from the Indians before the trade deadline last Friday, gives the Sox defense, power and speed — and some intangibles.
“He’s got a really high baseball IQ, and when you have that kind of IQ in the infield, especially the middle of the infield, you can make some not-so-subtle differences in games to help you win,” La Russa said.
Right-hander Evan Marshall threw 10 pitches off the mound Wednesday but no breaking balls as he works back from a strained right flexor pronator in his elbow.
Marshall, one of the Sox’ most trusted arms in the back of their bullpen in 2019 and ’20, landed on the injured list June 30. He is hoping to be back by the very end of August.