Monday’s bad news: Jake Burger out for 2018 with ruptured Achilles

He's the second White Sox prospect to face a potential significant surgery, and it's not even March

Jake Burger got the fancy introduction to spring training, jumping right into the big league camp the year after the White Sox selected him in the first round.

He hadn’t wasted the opportunity. He rumbled for a triple in his first game on Saturday, and followed it up with both a double and a fine play behind third base in his second game on Monday.

Unfortunately, that might be all the action he sees this year. Running out a grounder in the third inning, Burger collapsed about 15 feet before the bag, after which he writhed on the ground while clutching his lower leg.

He had to be carted off the field, and the White Sox’ only injury update was an ominous one:

Assuming it’s the worst case — a rupture — it’s a tough break for a number of reasons. It brings to mind the ankle injury Jared Mitchell suffered in his first spring training back in 2010, which stunted the rest of his career. Mitchell’s game had a lot more to do with his legs, and the White Sox didn’t do him any favors with extremely aggressive post-injury assignments, so perhaps the chips won’t be stacked against Burger in the same way before he even retakes the field.

Specific to Burger, though, he was among the more compelling prospects to watch early in the season, as he acknowledged and attempted to address the biggest initial concerns about his game. He moved to Arizona to spend the offseason conditioning, eliciting laughs at SoxFest when talking about his hot yoga classes with Nicky Delmonico. Burger also didn’t shy away from the idea that he needed to get more lift on his batted balls after a so-so pro debut at Kannapolis. Given his status as one of collegiate baseball’s more polished power bats, he had the potential to pounce on A-ball pitching this year and get people talking about a specific time table.

If he’s done for the season, that talk will have to wait a year, with the hope that the injury doesn’t cost him any of the mobility he needs to stick at third base.

And if he’s done for the year, it reduces the depth from which the Sox could feasibly accelerate the timetable in 2019, as one assumes it would take him some time to get back up to speed. Granted, a lot of future offseason plans among Sox fans include Manny Machado or Josh Donaldson at third base, but the rebuild is going to need waves of talent in order to be more than random runs at 90 wins here and there. Burger is part of that overall depth, and it doesn’t help that it comes after the news that Micker Adolfo is trying to stave off his own surgery.

It’s not the end of the world, but it’s not a fun way to start spring training. Perhaps the Sox should hope everybody else makes it out of February in working order and go from there.

UPDATE (10:40 a.m.): It’s indeed a rupture.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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MonicaMG

Crossing my fingers for the rest of spring training to be injury free.
Hope Burger recovers fully

MrTopaz

This is a real kick in the crotch. He made a play at third in the first or second inning that was perfectly cromulent (some sail in the throw to 1st not withstanding). It was a nice little hint that maybe he could hold down the position, despite the looming threat of a move to first. I know, I know. The smallest of sample sizes, but he seemed even bigger at the hitters camp and in ST than he had even before the draft, and my optimism for the guy’s hot corner prospects was getting shaken. Really sucks. Just seems like a great kid that wants to be part of the next competitive team, and this likely complicates that picture.

asinwreck

The first two words that lodged in my head when I heard of the injury were “Jared Mitchell.” I am sad that Jim’s astute analysis led to the same two words.

ParisSox

I thought “Mike Moustakas”.

katiesphil

I respectfully disagree. The Sox are much better off avoiding guys like that, seeing what Yolmer can do over the course of a season, and reevaluating next off-season when much better options than Moose are on the market, with Arenado available the year after. Burger’s probable lost season sucks, but grabbing up another guy likely to be a FA disappointment isn’t an option I want the Sox to jump at.

ParisSox

Oh I agree. Just with the speculation around the “affordability” of Moose for 3 or 4 years, it seemed like a logical knee-jerk reaction. I don’t think Hahn would actually do it. Kenny would of course.

craigws

Nah, I think Kenny would be all about Machado. Though he would potentially be all about him in the same way he was all about A-Rod.

katiesphil

Can only hope for the best for him and that he is able to fully recover and eventually pick up where he left off. Poor kids. For the rest of us, this would be a major annoyance we’d have to work around. For them, it’s their lives and livelihoods as they know them.

Josh Nelson

There will be lawyers

PauliePaulie

It’s ruptured. Out for the year. Damn.

Lurker Laura

Feel awful for him. Secondarily, my happy pre-season Sox vibes are taking a serious hit.

PauliePaulie

I’ve put myself in the precarious position of being excited about Salad’s early performance.

katiesphil

Everybody’s somebody’s fool.
But he certainly does look like he wants to keep his job.

Anohito

Best of luck to his recovery. Saw his twitter to fans about this situation. Good positive attitude and lots of hope.

Reindeer Games

The #Heftyboyz crew loses its boy for the year, but I still believe in the kid to come back and be awesome.

PauliePaulie

Soooo, on to Bruce Rondon then?

MrTopaz

Avi’s a large adult son. It’s not a perfect match, but circumstances being what they are…

Reindeer Games

the #heftyboyz crew will throw some support behind Avi. He’s thick hefty.

ChunkySlugger72

This freaking sucks, It seems like for a long time we were lucky to dodge injuries and DL stints more so than other clubs and now it seems like the injury bug has finally caught up with us,they have been so much more common with our club the past couple of seasons (Rodon being an example last spring as well, Adolfo hurting and Burdi getting TJ last year) Hopefully Burger comes back strong next year and I hope our rebuild doesn’t get plagued by more injury news like this in the near future, because hearing about it before the season even starts really feels like a punch in the gut and a kick in the balls. Please don’t turn out like the Mets.