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With the White Sox returning to Chicago for an eight-game homestand on Thursday — which they opened with a win — Rick Hahn gave a dugout briefing about the White Sox, the first third of which was consumed by a spate of injury updates.
I’ve tried to arrange them from most encouraging to least encouraging.
*Carlos Rodon is the only one with a firm timetable. He’ll make his first start on Saturday for Kannapolis. He’s gotten stretched out some in extended spring training, and Hahn says that Rodon will throw in “in the neighborhood of five innings,” although he warned that he might give the Hickory Crawdads an advantage by saying so. He may only need a couple of starts in the minors if everything goes well.
*Luis Robert comes closest to having a date assigned for his return from a thumb injury, but there isn’t one yet. He’s hitting in cages and going through defensive drills, he hasn’t yet played in extended spring training games. That should happen by the end of the month, and Hahn put an “early June” tag on his stateside regular season debut in Winston-Salem, assuming he logs enough games in Arizona. (The Winston-Salem part is also contingent on Robert looking game for the level, but likely given that’s where Robert spent his time before rehabbing.)
*Avisail Garcia is described as “slowly progressing,” in that he’s been spotted doing outfield drills in Chicago. He pulled his hamstring on April 23, and the length of his absence would be less notable if Rick Renteria didn’t describe it as “mild to moderate” in the immediate aftermath, because it looked closer to “moderate to at least his leg is still attached” in real time. Hahn now calls it a Grade 2 strain and wouldn’t say Garcia has suffered setbacks. Instead, Hahn says that he’s just not yet asymptomatic and has to wait until his leg allows him to fully ramp up his workload.
*Alec Hansen is throwing bullpen sessions as he recovers from a forearm issue, but hasn’t yet began to make starts in extended spring training. Hahn described his work as “building” for now.
*Miguel Gonzalez, on the other hand, did suffer “a little setback” with his shoulder issue, according to Hahn. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection and won’t be throwing for 10 to 14 days.
*Kade McClure left his last start in the first inning after twisting his knee trying to field a ground ball (the game log had said that it was a line drive). Hahn said it doesn’t look like anything that will require surgery, but McClure will be out a few weeks with a sprain.
*A.J. Puckett has “no real update,” according to Hahn. His elbow is still bothering him.
*Victor Diaz (remember him?) has “a little shoulder issue,” and “there is no update.”
*Zack Burdi … OK, Hahn didn’t give an update on him in this session, but Erik asked about him on the Patreon Request Line, and Hahn has said before that Burdi could be ready for game action by the All-Star break. That’d be roughly a year after he underwent Tommy John surgery.
Friday marked Burdi’s fourth bullpen session of approximately 20 pitches off the mound at Camelback Ranch, and it was focused on fastballs, although he has incorporated sliders during warmups. Those lessons learned Burdi spoke of range from pitching mechanics to off-the-field preparation.
“I’ve really condensed my delivery, shortened my arm action,” Burdi said. “I’m kind of getting away from that side-to-side and getting more over the ball and getting when my arm comes out of my glove, getting up higher and not dropping it down and having this big loop and being late on my ball.
As for Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech, Hahn is still pitching a very conservative line, using July/the All-Star break as a time to reassess prospect assignments. A couple of ugly starts from Kopech, coupled with a clearer idea for Rodon’s return, make that notion a little less ridiculous.