Catcher Korey Lee ‘doing whatever I can’ to get in White Sox' lineup

Lee catches Garrett Crochet in his third game of the Mariners series behind the plate.

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Korey Lee of the White Sox reacts after his double against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Monday in Seattle.

Korey Lee of the White Sox reacts after his double against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Monday in Seattle.

Steph Chambers/Getty Images

SEATTLE — Korey Lee caught his third game in four nights Thursday in the White Sox’ series against the Mariners. Whether it’s a precursor to manager Pedro Grifol giving him more playing time over veteran Martin Maldonado (.078 batting average) remains to be seen.

“I wish I was in charge of the lineup — that’s a question for Pedro,” said Lee, who appeared in his 43rd game behind the plate and 35th as the starter. “I’m doing whatever I can to get in the lineup.”

Lee, 25, has been mentored by Maldonado, 37, since they were Astros teammates, and while he won’t disparage a former Gold Glove winner with 1,154 games played, he knows it’s his time now, and he wants to catch more. All Lee can do, he said, is “come every day to play, whether it’s catching, DH or come off the bench to catch. Do whatever I can to help this team win.”

Lee, who took a .260/.292/.396 hitting line, five homers and .688 OPS into Thursday, has been the designated hitter seven times.

On deck: White Sox at Diamondbacks

  • Friday: Chris Flexen (2-5, 5.06 ERA) vs. Ryne Nelson (3-5, 5.96), 8:40 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM
  • Saturday: Erick Fedde (4-1, 3.10) vs. TBA, 9:10 p.m. NBCSCH, 1000-AM
  • Sunday: Drew Thorpe (0-0, 1.80) vs. Jordan Montgomery (4-4, 6.58), 3:10 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM

“He’s at a good pace right now to catch about [100] games,” said Grifol, a former minor-league catcher. “Everybody has their way of developing catchers. I have mine. I think he’s doing really well. You’ll eventually see him catch every day at some point, just not right now.”

Grifol liked how Lee handled Jonathan Cannon’s seven innings of one-run ball Wednesday in a 3-2 loss in 10 innings.

“That’s a big part of his development,” Grifol said.

It’s a part of catching Lee embraces.

“I love it — I get this from Martin,” he said. “You have to have a passion for catching. It’s the only position where you’re in control of the defense and then you have to bring your offense. It’s a lot, but it’s second nature to me now.”

Eloy starts rehab

Outfielder and DH Eloy Jimenez started a rehab assignment Thursday at the Arizona Complex League, 22 days after going on the injured list with a strained left hamstring. The expectation then was he’d be out four to six weeks. Grifol wouldn’t say when he expects him back in the lineup.

“You know how I feel about a rehab — we talk about it all the time,” Grifol said. “It’s an injury. He’s going to play. He’ll get out there, run around, and we have to see how he feels the next day. And the next day, we can take the proper steps. You can plan it, but you can either speed it up or slow it down, depending on how he’s feeling.”

Pham expected off IL Friday

Outfielder Tommy Pham was eligible to be reinstated from the IL on Thursday but will wait another day. He’s in Arizona on his rehab assignment, so staying back another day makes sense for convenience sake before the Sox open a three-game series there against the Diamondbacks on Friday.

“He wanted another day of ABs,” Grifol said. “There’s some things he wanted to iron out. But health-wise, he’s good.”

They’re the worst

The Sox were off to the worst 69-game start since the Tigers were also 17-52 in 2003. Mitch Haniger’s walk-off bloop single in the 10th inning Wednesday gave the Sox their fourth loss in a row and 22nd in their last 25 games.

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