White Sox pitcher Chad Kuhl grateful to be back in major leagues

‘‘It means the world,’’ said Kuhl, who nearly a year ago was designated for assignment by the Nationals after a rough outing.

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Andrew Benintendi (23) celebrates his run against the Diamondbacks with a handshake with Korey Lee in the second inning Friday.

Andrew Benintendi (23) celebrates his run against the Diamondbacks with Korey Lee in the second inning Friday.

Ross D. Franklin/AP

PHOENIX — Say this for the White Sox: They provide a lot of opportunities.

And it’s hard to find a player more appreciative of a promotion from Triple-A Charlotte than 33-year-old pitcher Chad Kuhl.

‘‘It means the world,’’ Kuhl said before the Sox’ 7-1 loss Friday to the Diamondbacks.

Starter Chris Flexen was tagged for a two-run single by .140 hitter Tucker Barnhart in the second inning, and a home run by Eugenio Suarez sparked a three-run rally in the fourth that chased Flexen (2-6).

A bloop single by Nicky Lopez that scored Andrew Benintendi in the second accounted for the Sox’ lone run.

Nearly a year ago, Kuhl was designated for assignment by the Nationals after a rough outing. Five months earlier, wife Amanda had been diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

Fast-forward to Friday. Kuhl was back in the majors with the Sox, and his wife’s cancer is in full remission.

Manager Pedro Grifol said that reports indicated Kuhl’s velocity had increased and that his experience as a starter and reliever would give the Sox added flexibility.

In addition, Tommy Pham (sprained left ankle sprain) was activated from the 10-day injured list and started in right field against the Diamondbacks. He went 1-for-4.

To make room for Kuhl and Pham on the active roster, outfielder Zach DeLoach and reliever Jordan Leasure, who leads the Sox with 30 appearances, were optioned to Charlotte.

Grifol reiterated that Leasure, who had a 4.08 ERA in his first major-league stint, remained a big part of the Sox’s future but needed to work on fastball command and holding runners on base.

Lengthening lineup

The return of Pham provided the Sox with some much-needed offensive ability after they scored 15 runs in their last five games.

‘‘I’m just happy to see our lineup start to take shape to what we’ve kind of envisioned at the beginning, which we haven’t been able to have together,’’ Grifol said.

Designated hitter Eloy Jimenez (strained hamstring) hit a home run and a double Thursday in an Arizona Complex League game, but Grifol stressed his progress will be determined primarily by how he’s running and how he recovers.

Grifol is extremely cautious, especially after Andrew Benintendi and Pham just returned from injuries.

‘‘Because [playing] here, this goes on the back of your bubble-gum card,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘When you’re smelling a base hit, you’re going to go get that little extra step, right?

‘‘We want to make sure [Jimenez] is capable of doing that without reinjuring it.’’

No way, Jose

The release of 2020 American League MVP Jose Abreu by the Astros brought sadness to former teammate Andrew Vaughn.

‘‘He was one of hardest workers I’ve come across in this game so far,’’ said Vaughn, who was a rookie when Abreu produced 30 homers and 117 RBI for the Sox in 2021.

‘‘It’s definitely tough to see. He was struggling, but I know in my heart he was out there doing what he can. He has a winning mentality and always wants to be great.’’

Abreu hit 243 homers and drove in 863 runs in nine seasons with the Sox (2014-22) but was batting only .124 with two homers in 113 at-bats this season with the Astros, who are responsible for the remaining $30 million on his contract.

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