New season, same old injury issues for White Sox

But general manager Rick Hahn isn’t discouraged yet

SHARE New season, same old injury issues for White Sox
Yoan Moncada

Chicago White Sox’s Yoan Moncada reacts after striking out swinging during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants in Chicago, Wednesday, April 5, 2023.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Maybe sometime this summer, the mythical revolving door for the White Sox’ training room will come to a complete halt.

The ever-changing roster continued to spin Friday with third baseman Yoan Moncada going on the 10-day injured list, which coincided with the return of slugger Eloy Jimenez — three days after shortstop Tim Anderson was lost for two to four weeks with a sprained left knee.

At least the Sox won’t play short-handed as they did for three games in Minnesota while Moncada tried to return from a sore lower back.

An MRI exam confirmed the soreness, and general manager Rick Hahn expressed optimism that Moncada could return sometime during the Sox’ next trip, which starts next Friday against the Rays.

At the same time, the rash of injuries is reminiscent of the 2022 season, when great expectations were doused by an array of injuries to significant players that exposed a lack of depth and led to an 81-81 season and a thick layer of fan discontent that Hahn understands.

“We talked about that going back to spring training or the offseason, that there’s going to be a level of ‘prove it’ over the course of this summer, not simply from a health standpoint but from a performance standpoint, a competitiveness standpoint, approach on the field, attitude, preparation,” Hahn said before the series opener against the Orioles. “All that stuff, we were going to have to show we were making marked improvement over where we were.”

But Hahn added that injuries have struck teams around the majors and that this is common in March and April as players accelerate their preparation.

Moncada’s injury stunted the progress he made after playing only 104 games in 2022 because of various ailments. He was batting .308 with an .889 OPS and looked invigorated thanks to his health.

“He wanted to play, but at the end of the day, it’s a back, right?” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said.

And that’s the high-wire act the Sox are walking as they understandably are taking a cautious approach with ailments as they did with Jimenez, who returned after a minimum 10-day stint, with no assurances they’ll remain healthy for the duration of the season.

They also need to ensure the health of center fielder Luis Robert Jr., who was batting .340 after playing in only 98 games last season because of various ailments.

The spate of injuries hasn’t discouraged Hahn, who supervised a number of major changes in the organization’s training department and believes that Jimenez’s improved health in the offseason might have enabled him to return sooner from a hamstring injury.

“Am I going to let 13 days dictate our feelings on the changes we’ve made?” Hahn said. “Absolutely not. The level of preparation, analysis, professionalism, everything that has gone into player performance has been impressive and remains strong.”

Jake Burger made his second start at third base in place of Moncada and hit a home run in the second inning, but Grifol intimated he would lean toward using the best matchups on a daily basis.

Jimenez, not known for his defense, started as the designated hitter but still envisions playing right field at some point.

“I care because I want to play outfield,” Jimenez said.

But that won’t happen until his legs are deemed strong enough, and Grifol said the lack of a minor-league rehab assignment enabled him to return as a designated hitter to fortify a mercurial offense.

“We’ve got to ramp him up, and then we’ll see where we’re at,” Grifol said. “Right now, he helps in the batter’s box, and we’ll see how things play out as we go.”

The Latest
The girl was crossing a street when the driver of a silver SUV ran a red light and hit her. She was hospitalized in critical condition, police said.
The Bears are ready to win. When their veterans report to Halas Hall for training camp Friday, they’ll carry that responsibility with them.
“One hundred and 10 days away from this election, we don’t even know who President Trump and JD Vance is going to run against,” said Ohio U.S. Senate candidate Bernie Moreno. “We have no idea. It could be your governor.”
The Tokyo Series could feature 2024 All-Stars Shohei Ohtani and Shota Imanaga.
The Cubs went into the break on a high note, but can they carry that momentum to the trade deadline?