DETROIT — Another day, another injury for the White Sox.
Wait, make that two more injuries. One of them to one of the team’s star players.
The injury bug bit harder with a double-fanged crunch Thursday when third baseman Yoan Moncada and right-hander Ryan Burr were added to a growing injured list one day before the season opener against the Tigers.
On Tuesday, All-Star right-hander Lance Lynn had knee surgery and will be sidelined for at least eight weeks. Also Tuesday, left-handed reliever Garrett Crochet had season-ending Tommy John surgery. And reliever Joe Kelly, signed in March to bolster the bullpen, is starting the season on the IL as expected because of a nerve injury in his right biceps.
Moncada, who was scratched from the Cactus League finale Tuesday after feeling soreness in his right side after swinging the bat before the game, has a Grade 1 oblique strain and will be out about three weeks, general manager Rick Hahn said. Burr has a right shoulder strain.
“No matter when it happens, when you lose key players to injury, it’s frustrating,” Opening Day starter Lucas Giolito said. “It’s sad, it’s frustrating.”
So it goes, Giolito said. But it’s “next man up,” he said, something the Sox made work when Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal went down for long stretches last season.
Jake Burger was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to take Moncada’s spot on the Opening Day roster and will play third base Friday, manager Tony La Russa said. Matt Foster was called up to take Burr’s spot in the bullpen.
It’s not the ideal way to embark on a season teeming with lofty postseason expectations, against an improved Tigers team some are picking to be the defending champion Sox’ toughest competitor in the American League Central.
“This division is going to be highly contested,” general manager Hahn said. “Many of the prognosticators out there have us in a pretty comfortable spot in this division. But I disagree. This thing is going to go down until September. Every team in the division is better than they were a year ago, and it’s going to be a fun summer.
“We’re going to be tested.”
Moncada was the one Sox hitter from a nucleus of Tim Anderson, Robert, Jose Abreu, Grandal and Jimenez who seemed to need more at-bats before the opener. Hahn said Moncada wanted to play through the injury but feels it when he laughs, sneezes or coughs.
“So it’s probably not something to be torqueing and trying to hit a baseball with,” Hahn said. “But we feel we caught this one early. If it had gone on a couple of days, swinging it could have been far more significant.”
Hahn characterized the strain as “mild” and said Moncada could be back in less than three weeks, but it’s “not the kind of thing you want to mess around with where it could become a major issue.”
Moncada said he could resume running and possibly playing catch in a few days.
“There is no need for trying to rush anything and making things worse,” he said through translator Billy Russo. “The injury is in a delicate area because it’s involved with almost all the activity that we do. You have to be smart about that, too. And hopefully in a few days, weeks, this goes away.”
Burr felt something in his shoulder while getting loose for a side session Wednesday, Hahn said. With the shortened spring training following the owners’ lockout, injuries are not coming as a shock.
“Look, this is going to be a challenging season for everyone throughout baseball,” Hahn said. “We feel good about the depth we’ve accumulated. We’re happy, never want anyone to get hurt but we’re lucky to have a guy like Jake Burger in reserve who we can bring up and jump into that third-base spot as well as some versatility on our roster to weather that storm.”