When they run, White Sox are tough to catch

The Sox have the best stolen-base percentage in the majors at 93%.

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Tim Anderson of the White Sox steals second base against the Cubs at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 29.

Tim Anderson of the White Sox steals second base against the Cubs at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 29.

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The White Sox aren’t wasting any steps stealing bases in 2022. With 27 steals in 29 attempts after Luis Robert’s stolen base against the Dodgers in the fourth inning Wednesday, they aren’t wasting many outs, either.

That 93% success rate is the best in the major leagues.

“I attribute it to the fact that we have Tim Anderson [8-for-8] and Luis Robert [8-for-9] and Adam Engel [7-for-8] and we’ve got some other guys that can run at a high percentage,” manager Tony La Russa said.

It’s one area offensively where the Sox are better than last season, when they were successful 74% of the time (57-for-77). In 2020, they were at 71.4%.

“We’re not pushing it,” La Russa said. “There are times the stolen base is there and we don’t put the green light on. You’re concerned about stealing a base that is not directly leading to winning a game and you don’t want to risk it, wearing the legs out or sliding in and hurting yourself. [But] the stolen base, it’s back. And the steal of third is back.”

The franchise record is 76.7% when Rudy Law swiped a franchise record 77 bases for La Russa’s 1983 AL West Division champs.

Pitchers have done more to defend the steal since that era, but the influx of hard throwers “who take more time to get rid of the ball means you can steal a base if you got speed,” La Russa said. “It’s part of the type of team you have offensively, the guy you face. And it’s really not that much about the catcher, it’s the speed of the runner and timing of the pitcher.”

Kelly on the mend

Joe Kelly’s first thought when he strained his left hamstring throwing a pitch against the Red Sox on May 25 was that it would be his last pitch for a while.

The second thought was that he wouldn’t get to pitch against the Dodgers, whom he pitched for the three previous seasons, this series.

“So mad. That’s the most frustrating thing,” Kelly said Wednesday. “Right when I injured it, that was literally the first thing I thought about. Annoying.”

Two weeks since, Kelly said his leg feels “really good.” He will throw off a mound Thursday for the first time since getting hurt.

“The actual imaging said it was a pretty good strain but I feel better than what it is,” he said.

After another bullpen, Kelly said he should be ready for a game, probably at Triple-A Charlotte next week.

“It’s not where I’ll need to build up [the arm] because I’ve been throwing every single day,” Kelly said.

Kelly, who signed to a two-year, $17 million free-agent deal with the Sox, has appeared in only seven games, starting late because of a right biceps nerve injury.

AJ Pollock did get to face his former team. Dodgers closer Craig Kimbrel, traded for Pollock during spring training, is missing the series while on Paternity Leave.

This and that

Right-hander Davis Martin will make his third start Friday against the Rangers. Lucas Giolito starts Saturday and Michael Kopech on Sunday in the weekend home series.

• Shortstop Colson Montgomery has reached base safely in 20 consecutive games for Low-A Kannapolis. Montgomery, 20, the 22nd player drafted overall in 2021, was hitting .296/.401/.480 with four HR, 14 extra-base hits and 23 RBI in 33 games.

• The Sox claimed right-hander Parker Markel off waivers from the Athletics on Wednesday and optioned him to Triple-A Charlotte. Markel, 31, pitched three innings in three relief appearances for the A’s.

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