White Sox hopeful Yoan Moncada can avoid IL stint

Moncada has dealt with oblique, quadriceps and hamstring injuries this season.

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Yoan Moncada had an MRI on his hamstring Saturday.

Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros slides safely into third base in front of Yoan Moncada of the White Sox in Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Guaranteed Rate Field on October 12, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


HOUSTON — Third baseman Yoan Moncada had an MRI exam on his right hamstring Saturday, a day after leaving the White Sox’ 13-3 loss to the Astros with tightness in the muscle. The Sox have their fingers crossed that he won’t have to go on the 10-day injured list.

‘‘There’s something there, but it’s not so much of a problem that we can’t be a little patient to see if he comes through,’’ manager Tony La Russa said.

Utility player Leury Garcia had soreness in his side and was out of the lineup for the Sox’ 7-0 victory Saturday.

‘‘We’re going to wait it out [Sunday] and see how he is Monday,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘We can’t afford to play too short. You can only have so much patience. We don’t want to do the 10-day thing unless it’s certain.’’

Moncada has dealt with oblique, quadriceps and hamstring injuries this season and was struggling at the plate before getting five hits, including a home run, and five RBI on Wednesday in Detroit.

Without Garcia and Moncada, catcher Reese McGuire was the only available position player on the bench. With catcher Yasmani Grandal on the IL, La Russa started an all right-handed-hitting lineup against future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, who allowed seven runs.

‘‘We can beat a right-hander with our lineup,’’ La Russa said before the game. ‘‘I know we’re going to compete against Verlander.’’

Hitting’s contagious

Before Saturday, the Sox were hitting .282/.337/.414 in their last 26 games, raising their season average from .226 to .251.

‘‘Hitting can be contagious in a good way and in a bad way, too,’’ outfielder AJ Pollock said. ‘‘When you’re not hitting, you can put everyone else’s at-bats on yourself. The trick is to do your job and swing at the pitches you want to swing at, be aggressive in the zone for yourself.’’

The Sox had 12 hits against Verlander and the Astros’ bullpen.

Keen on Lambert

La Russa said right-hander Jimmy Lambert reminds him of a young Adam Wainwright, whom La Russa managed with the Cardinals — high praise, indeed. La Russa said he won’t hesitate to use Lambert in high-leverage situations.

‘‘I’m very impressed, that’s the fun part,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘You see the difference [from] last year. He got his feet wet. He’s actually making pitches with three or four pitches, very competitive.’’

Lambert, who has battled injuries in recent years, has a 3.09 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 11‰ innings spanning five appearances.

‘‘The key now is he pitches an inning, give him a couple of days [off],’’ La Russa said. ‘‘He pitches a couple of innings, give him three days [off]. Just don’t hurt him.’’

This and that

Right-hander Davis Martin, who pitched five scoreless innings in relief Wednesday in Detroit, will be available as protection when right-hander Michael Kopech makes his first start Sunday since leaving a game against the Rangers with a sore right knee last Sunday.

‘‘If something’s wrong with Kopech, get him out of there right away,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘[Martin will] jump in there.’’

• The Giants claimed catcher Yermin Mercedes off waivers from the Sox and assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento.

• Verlander had three strikeouts and has 3,094 in his career. He moved past CC Sabathia (3,093) for 16th place on the all-time list.

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