White Sox’ Michael Kopech cleared to start Sunday vs. Astros

Michael Kopech’s bullpen session Thursday went well. “He feels good. He’s ready,” manager Tony La Russa said.

SHARE White Sox’ Michael Kopech cleared to start Sunday vs. Astros
Michael Kopech’s last start was Sunday in Chicago.

White Sox starting pitcher Michael Kopech throws against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, June 12, 2022. (AP)

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HOUSTON — After passing a test on his right knee during a 30-pitch bullpen session at Minute Maid Park on the White Sox’ day off Thursday, then following it with some intense throwing on flat ground Friday, right-hander Michael Kopech will get another start on “Sunday Night Baseball.”

“He feels great. He’s ready,” manager Tony La Russa said.

Kopech slammed a ball into the infield grass in anger after throwing 13 pitches in his last start Sunday against the Rangers, then hobbled off the mound with soreness in his right knee.

It didn’t look good.

“I probably would have been pretty doubtful about it,” Kopech said.

Turns out Kopech pinched a preexisting cyst, which resulted in fluid building up behind the knee, according to general manager Rick Hahn. Kopech had the knee drained, and while he might have to put up with some discomfort Sunday against the Astros — and beyond — the fact that nothing is structurally wrong gives him and the Sox assurance he can continue to pitch.

“It’s just being able to tolerate it, and I can tolerate it,” Kopech said. “But it’s gotten better day to day. Who knows? Maybe by Sunday, I’m not feeling anything at all.”

Kopech wasn’t as sharp in his bullpen as he hoped to be, but the bigger deal was the knee — the one he drives off of — feeling as well as it did Friday.

“I’ve gone through my delivery 200 times in the past two days, and it’s felt good every time,” he said. “I don’t think it’s anything that’s going to affect me on the mound.”

Kopech is 2-2 with a 1.92 ERA in 11 starts.

Anderson to return Monday

Shortstop Tim Anderson (strained groin) will finish his minor-league rehab assignment this weekend and rejoin the team Monday.

“He’s ready to come home and play — looking forward to seeing him,” La Russa said.

Anderson might not play every day immediately. La Russa said it might be like spring training initially, “where he plays one and sits one, plays two and sits one. We’ll determine that when they test him out when he gets here.”

Mendick to the rescue

Since Anderson was injured May 29, Danny Mendick was hitting .316/.361/.491 with two home runs, 11 RBI and 14 runs scored in 14 games through Thursday. He also hadn’t made an error this season. La Russa was asked again if Mendick will play second base when Anderson returns.

“Certainly cannot deny what he’s done for us,” La Russa said. “That’s three days away, so right now, play a good three days.”

Leury Garcia and Josh Harrison have shared most of the duty at second.

Zavala’s balancing act

Seby Zavala, filling in at catcher with Yasmani Grandal on the injured list, seemed to revive his bat in 41 games at Triple-A Charlotte, going .282/.396/.535 with eight homers for the Knights. He homered for the Sox on Wednesday in Detroit and doubled and singled in his first two at-bats Friday against Astros left-hander Framber Valdez.

“Just better balance [at the plate] and repeating my prep work over and over rather than just addressing things when they weren’t going well,” Zavala said.

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