Lucas Giolito’s injury pushes White Sox’ pitching depth to its limits

Opening Day starter left first start Friday with soreness in abdomen.

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Lucas Giolito of the White Sox pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning of Opening Day at Comerica Park on April 8, 2022, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)


DETROIT — A pitching staff already full of question marks and stung by the losses of one starter and two relievers just before the season began will be under even more duress after losing its Opening Day starter for at least two starts.

White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito appears headed to the 10-day injured list after leaving his start Friday against the Tigers with soreness in his abdomen.

‘‘We’re definitely going to have to replace him with someone,’’ manager Tony La Russa said. ‘‘We just can’t wait.

‘‘Optimistically, maybe [he will miss] a couple of starts. We’re going to miss him.’’

Right-hander Lance Lynn had knee surgery Tuesday and is out for eight weeks. Left-handed reliever Garrett Crochet had Tommy John surgery and is out for the season. Right-handed reliever Ryan Burr landed on the IL with a sore shoulder.

And now Giolito, who pitched four scoreless innings before leaving with a lead in a game the bullpen lost, will miss two turns in the rotation. Or more.

‘‘That’s optimistic,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘That’s what I was told. I’ll embrace that. I would think by Tuesday we’d have that roster [move]. If he’s not going to be available, we’d have somebody here.’’

Right-hander Dylan Cease pitched five strong innings in the Sox’ 5-2 victory Saturday, a bounce-back result after a tough loss that La Russa said showed the ‘‘heart and guts’’ of the team.

Nonetheless, the Sox took yet another injury blow when right fielder AJ Pollock left in the third inning with a tight hamstring.

So let’s recap the list of Sox players on the shelf two games into the season: pitchers Lynn, Giolito, Crochet, Joe Kelly and Burr and position players Yoan Moncada and Pollock.

After right-hander Michael Kopech — stretched out for no more than four innings — starts Sunday, La Russa will go with right-hander Vince Velasquez to start the home opener Tuesday against the Mariners. Velasquez signed a one-year, $3 million contract in the first week of spring training.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will start Wednesday. After that, it’s a ‘‘who knows?’’ situation to fill Giolito’s next turn. Among the possibilities is left-hander Tanner Banks, a 30-year-old minor-league lifer.

‘‘Unfortunate because I really wanted to kick off this year and set the tone,’’ Giolito said Saturday. ‘‘It’s just another challenge for us to get through. But I’m very optimistic that this won’t affect my season too much, and I’ll be able to help the team win games again soon.’’

Giolito said he felt ‘‘a little tweak’’ on the left side of his lower abdomen but that random aches and pains aren’t unusual for pitchers.

‘‘So I immediately disregarded it,’’ he said.

But he felt it on the next couple of pitches, too, and knew it was time to exit. He said he felt ‘‘pretty good’’ Saturday and wasn’t feeling much soreness.

‘‘It’s a good sign for hopefully a quick recovery,’’ he said. ‘‘From my understanding, it’s like a random, freak, weird thing. Doesn’t happen to baseball players very often. Working with the training staff, medical staff, we’ll have a very nice plan of action.’’

The rash of injuries are shining a brighter light on a championship-minded front office’s decision to let left-hander Carlos Rodon, who struck out 12 Marlins in five innings in his Giants debut Saturday, leave in free agency and to add only Velasquez to the Sox’ rotation depth. The Sox signed right-hander Johnny Cueto to a minor-league deal last week, but he needs four or five outings at Triple-A Charlotte before he’s ready.

‘‘It’s time for some guys to get tested,’’ Giolito said. ‘‘There’s a lot of talent there, and it’s all about just the preparation for these guys going out there [and] knowing how good they are, having that confidence and executing. They can do it, 100%. These guys will rise to the occasion, and we’ll be all right.’’

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