TORONTO — The news could have been worse. And the way things are going injury-wise, White Sox fans braced for it on a day off Monday and a good portion of Tuesday before the Sox, as expected, put shortstop Tim Anderson on the 10-day injured list with a strained right groin.
When manager Tony La Russa said Tuesday that he hoped Anderson won’t be out longer than three weeks, it felt like a win.
Anderson suffered the injury making a play in the field during the Sox’ 5-4 victory over the Cubs on Sunday — the latest in a slew of Sox injuries the last two seasons. The aftermath looked ominous, with Anderson walking off the field with his arms over the shoulders of two trainers. But he’s with the team in Toronto, where they opened a six-game road trip Tuesday, and is receiving treatment.
Someone spotted Anderson and said, “Good to see you.”
“It’s good to be seen,” replied Anderson, who was walking around and riding an exercise bike in the visitors’ clubhouse, appearing to be in good spirits while joking with teammate Jose Abreu.
The Sox also reinstated outfielder Luis Robert from the COVID-19 list, although he’s still regaining strength and wasn’t in the lineup against the Blue Jays. It’s possible Robert will be the designated hitter Wednesday.
But back to Anderson, a dynamic hitter and the best one on a team that isn’t hitting.
“Good news is that it could be worse,” La Russa said. “Which means three weeks and not six weeks is realistic, maybe. Could have been more. Good news for us.”
Anderson, who has a Grade 1 strain, will receive daily treatment, get his cardio in and work his way up to rehab exercises. He also will play catch to keep his arm in shape.
“He was in great shape physically when he got hurt,” La Russa said. “With his [batting] stroke, once he feels good, with his quality repeating stroke, it wouldn’t take that much time with his swing.”
No matter how long or briefly Anderson is out, the loss will be significant. The All-Star and former batting champion is hitting .356/.393/.503 with five homers, nine doubles, 19 RBI and eight stolen bases in 40 games this season. He leads the major leagues with nine errors but has played 16 straight games without one, and 26 of his last 27 games have been error-free, with numerous excellent, rangy plays sprinkled in.
“He’s our igniter,” La Russa said.
Robert, 24, is next behind Anderson as the Sox’ most dynamic player and productive hitter, batting .285/.319/.438 with six homers, 17 RBI and six stolen bases in 33 games.
Symptoms during his recent bout with COVID weren’t as severe as the first time he had it in 2020, he said, but he still felt somewhat weak swinging in the cages and during batting practice.
“Your body always feels a little tired and down,” Robert said through bench coach Miguel Cairo. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take to get my energy back.”
Said La Russa: “We’re anxious to see when he’s game-ready. He has to build up his stamina and strength.”
Third baseman Yoan Moncada also wasn’t in the lineup. He has been dealing with a sore quadriceps and hasn’t started in the last four games, pinch-hitting Sunday against the Cubs.
“I have to trust the process,” Moncada said. “I want to play, but that’s not my decision.”
La Russa wasn’t ruling out Wednesday, however.
All said and done, the Sox were taking on a tough opponent on a five-game winning streak and were without Anderson, Robert, Moncada and Eloy Jimenez, who didn’t play Tuesday for Triple-A Charlotte — where he’s on a rehab assignment — after tweaking his right hamstring Saturday.
La Russa took solace knowing it was still May, albeit the last day.
“I like the lineup today,” said La Russa, who batted Yasmani Grandal in Anderson’s leadoff spot. “Because you’ve got a bunch of guys who’ll play like it’s the seventh game of the World Series.”