Pedro Grifol cuts White Sox relievers Kopech, Leasure some slack

White Sox notebook: Sox bullpen, sox hitters, catching prospect Edgar Quero, roster moves

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Seattle Mariners’ Tyler Locklear sits up after being hit by a pitch from Michael Kopech as White Sox catcher Korey Lee retrieves the ball during the eighth inning Monday, June 10, 2024, in Seattle. (AP)

Lindsey Wasson/AP Photos

SEATTLE — Relievers Jordan Leasure and Michael Kopech sat side by side Monday, leaning forward facing their lockers in the quiet visitors’ clubhouse at T-Mobile Park. It was moments after the White Sox’ 50th defeat of the season, a crushing 8-4 loss that saw the pair blow a 4-0 lead in the final two innings.

“These guys take it really hard, as they should,” manager Pedro Grifol said before the Sox’ late game against the Mariners on Tuesday night. “They’re competitors. They’re pitching in a part of the game where all eyes are on you and you feel like the game is on your shoulders.”

It marked the 13th time the Sox took a lead into the seventh inning or later and lost, including six times in their last 10 games.

Kopech, who allowed three runs in the eighth to allow the Mariners to tie the game 4-4, pinned the loss on himself. But Grifol said he won’t let Kopech or Leasure — who gave up Cal Raleigh’s walk-off grand slam in the ninth — take full responsibility.

“You’re talking about a rookie [Leasure] that is doing it for the first time, without a schedule, just based on how he feels, and he’s pitched a [team-high 29 appearances],” Grifol said. “And Michael, he’s been in the bullpen before, but he’s been starting the last couple years, and now he’s back to the bullpen, and so there are adjustments both have to make.

“I’m just not going to let them beat themselves up because we could have pulled that one off [Monday]. They’re giving their very best. It didn’t work.”

Entering Tuesday, the bullpen was 1-8 over its previous 17 games with an 8.13 ERA, a .342 average against and nine blown saves. Leasure (4.23 ERA, two saves) was unavailable Tuesday. But Grifol didn’t rule out Kopech (4.94, five saves) being available.

Quero on a roll at Birmingham

While prized prospect Drew Thorpe was debuting for the big-league Sox on Tuesday, his catcher at Double-A Birmingham, Edgar Quero, was basking in a Southern League Player of the Week honor. Quero leads the league in RBI (41) and was second in homers (10) and fifth in OPS (.838). He extended his hitting streak to 11 games Tuesday.

Quero admitted to being “a little fat” last year when the Sox acquired him from the Angels as part of their trade of pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez.

“I feel like I can play every day,” Quero said. “Right now, I have [13] games in a row, so I feel like normal. I know I can play every day right now.”

The Sox figure to have a fine catching tandem with Korey Lee and Quero whenever Quero, 21, is deemed ready.

“I know my time is coming,” he said.

Better bats

The Sox were hitting .248/.311/.455 entering Tuesday, with 13 homers in their last seven games — improvement for a team that was last in the majors with 207 runs.

“Our game plan has been good,” Grifol said. “They’re trusting themselves, trusting the game plan, and they’re performing. That’s what it’s about.”

Paul DeJong had five homers and a 1.074 OPS over his last 10 games, Luis Robert Jr. had three homers over his last six, Lenyn Sosa was batting .400/.471/.523 in 10 games since being recalled from Triple-A Charlotte, and Andrew Vaughn was riding a career-high 10-game hitting streak.

Leone to 60-day IL; Peralta optioned

Right-hander Dominic Leone (inflammation, right elbow) was transferred to the 60-day injured list, creating space on the 40-man roster for Thorpe. Left-hander Sammy Peralta was optioned to Charlotte to make room on the 26-man roster.

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