The White Sox expect to have Luis -Robert back soon from his hip injury, meaning some tough roster decisions must be made in the next few days.
Robert has been on the injured list since tearing his hip flexor May 2, but he will finish rehabbing with Triple-A Charlotte this weekend. All signs point to Robert rejoining the Sox this week, according to manager Tony La Russa.
At one point, the Sox were down three outfielders in Eloy Jimenez, Adam Engel and Robert, but La Russa is on the verge of having that trio available at the same time for the first time all season.
“The thought of having all three of them, I mean, it’s exciting,” La Russa said. “It’s going to be a fun outfield to put together. We’re going to get squeezed. We’ve had some guys earn a lot of at-bats who don’t want to give them up, so we’ll see what happens.”
Injuries to the Sox’ main outfielders created opportunities for backups such as Brian Goodwin, who has stepped up with clutch home runs twice in the last week.
Gavin Sheets has spent a lot of time in right field and has come up with a few timely hits of his own. On Friday, Sheets pinch-hit in the 10th inning and added an insurance run with an RBI single.
Since being called up June 29, Sheets might have done enough of the right things to have earned a spot with the big-league club awhile longer. Before the game Saturday, La Russa praised his plate discipline and two-strike approach.
“That’s what gets your attention,” La Russa said. “That’s the mark of a veteran hitter, and he’s doing it at an early time, and that’s probably the most impressive thing. Like yesterday, just to use the whole field and not just think distance, distance, distance because putting the ball in play is a win most often.”
The Sox have not gotten much power from their bats, trailing most of the league in total home runs, but they are trending upward lately. In their last 34 games, the Sox have 51 homers, including two -Saturday.
La Russa attributes the uptick to his guys squaring up the ball better than they had been earlier. But even when long balls were hard to come by, the Sox weren’t struggling to score runs.
“If you just put the ball in play and you group hits, you’re going to score runs,” La Russa said.
“Just square the ball up, hard contact, especially with as many guys on our club that have good foot speed, you know, we can do a lot of damage with taking extra bases.”
Grandal rehab timetable not set
Yasmani Grandal did running drills on the field before the game, but there isn’t a date yet for when he will start a rehab -appearance.
“There’s been some discussion, but I think it’s still a guesstimate,” La Russa said. “The big thing, he’s improving, and he’s -getting closer.”
La Russa said that one of the things being monitored most closely in Grandal’s recovery is how he responds the day after he does any physical activity. Grandal has been recovering well after rehab work, La Russa said.