KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Without Tim Anderson, the White Sox’ options at shortstop are limited at a premium position demanding sound defense and, with the absence of Anderson’s All-Star bat, some punch at the plate, as well.
There’s Leury Garcia, who, after signing an eyebrow-raising three-year, $16.5 million contract in the offseason, is having one of his worst seasons at the plate with a .211/.237/.274 hitting line and a .511 OPS that rates him with the most unproductive players in the majors.
Then there’s Lenyn Sosa, the 22-year-old rookie and the people’s choice. With five games of major-league experience, Sosa got his first big-league start at shortstop Wednesday, when the Sox played the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The fans always love the up-and-coming kid, and Sosa has some pop in his bat and a calm presence on the field to pique their interest.
“He’s a steady shortstop; he’s always been that way since we signed him at 17,” Sox assistant general manager and player development director Chris Getz told the Sun-Times. “Makes the routine play, comes in well for the slow roller and can direct the defense, which you like the shortstop to do.”
Manager Tony La Russa likes the “no deer in the headlights” looks he has seen from Sosa in his five games at second base. He also liked Sosa’s 427-foot home run to left, single to center and line drive to right for an out Tuesday.
“He’s had enough success this year, so it’s a good time to get a shot,” La Russa said. “And the better he does, the more he plays. There’s an opportunity here.”
“When you get a young guy who did what he did last night, it can be a jolt to a team,” Getz said.
The Sox clearly need a jolt, and Sosa batted .316/.367/.512 with 16 homers in 85 games between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, so there’s some thump in his bat. La Russa penciled him in ninth in the lineup.
“We’re looking for runs,” said La Russa, whose team had scored two, two, zero, eight, two and three runs in the first six games of the road trip.
Garcia was hobbling Tuesday, and he played both games of the doubleheader, so it wasn’t a surprise that Sosa got the start at his favorite position.
“The moment they told me I was coming here, I was focused on doing everything in my power to help this team,” he said Tuesday.
Anderson is having surgery Thursday to repair a sagittal band tear on the middle finger of his left hand and will be out approximately six weeks.
“We have a pretty good idea of the timetable,” Getz said, “but it’s still a fresh injury. We have to see how it unfolds. But some guys bounce back quicker than others. He heals quickly.”
The Sox don’t expect Sosa or anyone else to be Anderson. Since 2020, the Sox are 145-106 when Anderson is in the starting lineup and 39-42 when he is not. They’re 121-69 when he gets a hit, 70-29 when he gets two or more and 27-3 when he homers.
Sosa said he “learned you have to be patient here, you have to execute and you can’t let mistakes happen” after his first short stint in the majors in late June. The bottom line is, if he performs well, he’ll play.
“He’s an even-tempered kid,” Getz said. “He’s never shied away from any moment in his minor-league career. He seems to be very much in control [here].
“The best way to define him is very reliable, steady defender at shortstop. Makes the plays. He’s calming to his pitchers. Just very under control. He makes everyone around him comfortable.”