Kendall Graveman thankful for White Sox’ support

The unvaccinated reliever, who missed the three-game series in Toronto, rejoined the team.

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Kendall Graveman of the White Sox pitches against the Cleveland Guardians at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 10, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Right-hander Kendall Graveman, who was missing from the White Sox’ bullpen for three games while the team was getting swept in Toronto this week, expressed gratitude to the organization Friday for supporting his decision to not get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Back with the team along with starter Dylan Cease, who starts Saturday against the Rays, Graveman is a key piece in the bullpen who wasn’t available against a tough Blue Jays team. The Sox signed him to a three-year, $24 million contract as a free agent in the offseason.

General manager Rick Hahn said last week the Sox respected Cease and Graveman for “exercising their right to make that choice.” Graveman said the organization “has a ton of class, and that’s been something that I’ve really appreciated.”

The Canadian government requires entrants to be vaccinated for COVID-19 at least 14 days before entry. The Sox lined up Cease with extra rest to start against the Cubs last Sunday, keeping him out of the rotation for the Blue Jays, who faced Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Johnny Cueto.

“I’d like to say thank you to the organization because they’ve really been supportive of allowing me to make a decision, and that was a route they didn’t have to take,” Graveman said. “But they did, and I really respect our organization as a whole, from the time that they were trying to get me as a free agent to spring training to up close to the time to go to Toronto.”

The Sox returned right-handers Kyle Crick and Jimmy Lambert to Triple-A Charlotte, where Graveman went to throw a bullpen and work on his slider.

“There was no question about penalizing Graveman for making his choice,” La Russa said. “The way the three losses came out, there really wasn’t a lead late. Wish there would have. He’s ready to go in there [Friday].”

Graveman and Cease did not get paid or accrue service time.

“Moving forward, I hopefully help us win this series, and I love each and every one of these guys in this clubhouse, our coaching staff,” Graveman said. “Tough series for us [in Toronto], but moving forward we have three more left to go before we go home.”

This and that

Eloy Jimenez (hamstring) had a scheduled day off on his assignment with Charlotte.

“He’s very impatient,” La Russa said. “Just has to make sure he understands ‘get back, stay back.’ We’re as impatient as he is, believe me, but we’re not the ones going through this, so we have to be patient. Stick him in the middle of the lineup, and things will be different. Then the lineup changes.”

Lance Lynn (knee) allowed three runs, four hits and a walk in four innings in his second start of his rehabilitation assignment for Charlotte.

Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 12 games against the Rays. He singled in the first and homered in the sixth.

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