Michael Kopech adjusting, ‘making progress’ with sore knee

“It’s just standing on it, trusting it and throwing with what I have that day,” Kopech said.

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Michael Kopech threw 13 pitches against the Rangers on June 12 before leaving the game with a sore right knee.

White Sox starting pitcher Michael Kopech throws against the Texas Rangers Sunday, June 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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SAN FRANCISCO — Pitchers are accustomed to pitching with arm discomfort and figuring out ways to deal with it — it comes with the job. But working through lower body issues can pose more uncommon challenges, which is something Michael Kopech is working through with soreness in his right knee.

“There are adjustments you have to make when you tweak something, but it’s gotten better from start to start,” Kopech said. “I’m making progress with it.”

Since leaving a start against the Rangers after 13 pitches on June 12, Kopech has allowed 10 earned runs over 16 13 innings covering three starts. The knee is something he might have to work through the rest of the season.

“The main thing is trusting it,” he said. “There were a couple times, in Houston and Baltimore especially, I tried to do a little too much to try to get velocity. I was a little worried it wasn’t going to be there in those moments and just made bad pitches and wasted pitches. It’s just standing on it, trusting it and throwing with what I have that day.”

Kopech isn’t the only Sox pitcher dealing with lower half soreness. Lance Lynn, who pitched six scoreless innings in the Sox’ 1-0 win over the Giants Friday, tore a tendon in his right knee during spring training and had surgery. It took him four starts to look like himself.

“It’s coming back. That’s part of the process,” Lynn said.

Dylan Cease was checked by trainer James Kruk during the Sox’ 5-3 win over the Giants Saturday when he felt “a little groin tenderness for a pitch.”

“Through the course of a season we’re never going to feel 100 percent. Just a little mild soreness, and I’ll work through it. It will be fine, nothing too serious.”

Kopech had a preexisting cyst in the knee area that created his problem. Fluid was drained, and he pitched a week later.

“I don’t know if we know what to call it,” Kopech said. “There are some theories how the cyst formed, we don’t really know. It’s not 100 percent, but it’s about as close as it could be right now.

“I look to make every start I can and not miss a beat.”

Kopech will take a 2.78 ERA into his next start against the Twins Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field. Per Baseball Reference, his 2.0 wins above replacement leads all Sox players, a fraction above Jose Abreu (1.9).

All-Star finalist

Tim Anderson said “it would be cool” to experience a second All-Star Game.

Anderson was added to the team in 2021. This time, he’s one of two finalists at shortstop with the Jays’ Bo Bichette.

“It’s definitely dope for people to be voting for me,” Anderson said. “For them to obviously think that much of my game. And for them to obviously vote for me. Just keep pushing and see what happens.”

Eloy next week?

La Russa is not ruling out having Eloy Jimenez return from his rehab assignment next week.

“The question is how much does Eloy play in the outfield,” La Russa said said. “There’s a lot that’s uncertain about Eloy yet. What’s not uncertain is that we look forward to his return.”

Engel close

La Russa said outfielder Adam Engel’s legs are “feeling good, and he’s running well.”

Engel, on the IL with a hamstring strain, is eligible to return Monday.

“When his time is up he’ll be close,” La Russa said.

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