White Sox skipper Pedro Grifol irked by Luis Robert Jr. communication breakdown, not his work ethic

The manager said Robert was not in the lineup Sunday because of a tight hamstring and wasn’t getting benched for not running out a first-inning grounder Saturday.

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Luis Robert Jr. was not in the lineup Sunday due to hamstring tightness.

Luis Robert Jr. was not in the lineup Sunday due to hamstring tightness.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol has no problem with Luis Robert Jr.’s work ethic. It’s Robert’s communication that could use some improvement.

After being benched Saturday for not running hard to first base, Robert told the media — not Grifol — he was feeling hamstring tightness. That’s the part that bothered the Sox’ manager. Grifol understands that players want to be on the field to help their team, especially one that’s struggling like the Sox are.

If players communicate, then Grifol and the Sox can judge whether they’re putting in enough effort while playing hurt. Another factor is if players aren’t telling the staff how they’re doing physically, they could try to play through a problem and end up hurting themselves more.

“By any means, just because you are a little tight doesn’t mean you aren’t going to play,” Grifol said. “Communication always takes precedence to anything that is not communicated. Better decisions are made.”

Robert didn’t start Sunday because of the hamstring, Grifol said, but he did pinch-hit in the seventh inning before Romy Gonzalez pinch-ran. Grifol considered having Robert play the outfield but decided the risk wasn’t worth it on a cold and rainy day.

Grifol wants to make decisions that keep Robert on the field as much as possible. That will be easier if Robert and other players keep Grifol in the loop.

“It’s just communicating. And just because you communicate you’re tight doesn’t mean you’re not going to play,” Grifol said. “We’ve had players this year playing, and I knew they could only give us 70-75% down the line. I always say the same thing: Just give us all you got without being reckless. That’s all I can ask for.

“That’s my decision. If he can only give us 75%, and that’s what he gives us down the line and it doesn’t look right, tell me. That’s my decision so I can come in here in front of everybody and talk about that. But when I don’t know, I don’t know.”

Eloy Jimenez apparently learned that lesson.

Jimenez, who had four hits, never looked comfortable running and was replaced on the bases by Andrew Benintendi. Grifol said Jimenez is dealing with soreness in his legs, and the two chatted about what was expected Sunday when he reached base.

“[Jimenez] and I spoke and he’s not 100%, but for us the bat was more important than giving us 100% down the line,” Grifol said. “That’s just part of the communication process and the process that we want to continue to create here.”

Concern for Lopez

Reynaldo Lopez allowed Luke Raley’s two-run homer in the eighth inning that gave the Rays a 5-4 lead and soon left with the trainer. Grifol was optimistic that Lopez was just suffering “a little dead arm” in his biceps and couldn’t say whether the right-hander was headed to the injured list.

The health front

Grifol said shortstop Tim Anderson (sprained left knee) and infielder Hanser Alberto (strained left quad) will be back for Tuesday’s series opener with the Twins. Reliever Garrett Crochet, who had Tommy John surgery last April, began a rehab assignment Sunday with Double-A Birmingham.

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