Thumbs down: Leury García’s surgery damaging to White Sox depth chart

Before he injured his thumb with an ill-advised dive into first base, Leury García had spent the bulk of August showing his value in the form of a Tim Anderson’s understudy. He hit .306/.352/.417 in the nine games Anderson missed with a groin injury, throwing in decent glovework at no added cost to the viewer.

Had he remained healthy through Anderson’s return, he would have likely slid over to second to help out Danny Mendick. He also probably would have appeared in right field as a defensive replacement for Nomar Mazara, and maybe an offensive replacement given enough time.

Instead, the White Sox will have to find backups for their primary backup at all these positions. The White Sox moved García to the 45-day injured list Saturday morning as part of a cluster of roster moves. The White Sox said he severed a ligament in his left thumb and will need surgery to correct the issue. He’d theoretically be able to return if the White Sox played into October, but after getting swept by the long-dormant Cardinals in Saturday’s doubleheader, any postseason talk warrants the Jim Mora response at the moment.

If García were the first White Sox to hit the shelf in 2020, his absence might have gone undetected. As the actual order of injuries unfolded, his absence deals the White Sox a unique blow in mid-August. While Rick Renteria’s quotes on paper read as standard next-man-up fare, James Fegan included the tone in his write-up:

It’s that history that spliced into the hint of frustration in Renteria’s answer about García’s injury in Monday’s loss in Detroit, revealing they had talked to García about the perils of head-first sliding before he dived into first base at Comerica Park and severed a ligament in his left thumb to end his regular season, as an MRI would later reveal. García is out until at least October.

“I guess we’re going to have to figure it out,” Renteria said Saturday. “It’s a big loss for us because he was so flexible and capable of doing so much.”

Any irritation is understandable, because Renteria will have to proceed without his security blanket at four positions for the remainder of the season.


The hope was that Anderson’s return would free up García to help Danny Mendick at second base until Nick Madrigal can return from his separated shoulder injury (and maybe beyond, if Madrigal’s shoulder saps his already limited ability to drive the ball).

Instead, Mendick will get the opportunity of his dreams, and not a moment too soon, considering he’ll turn 27 the day after the regular season ends. His at-bats are the team’s most watchable when it comes to swinging and taking pitches, but there’s a substantial chance MLB pitchers will reduce his output to impotent grounders to the left side and 88 mph flies to the right side. It was a lot nicer when Mendick’s adequacy was a bonus, not a necessity.

PERTINENT: Danny Mendick has the White Sox’s only good approach right now


The impetus is on Anderson to keep his groin happy. Stop laughing. If that body part or any other one fails him, Mendick probably slides over to short, which leaves Ryan Goins to be the glove-first second baseman. Goins already followed the template for short-lived emergency success last year …

  • July: .324/.432/.595 over 44 PA
  • August: .250/.327/.295 over 99 PA
  • September: .105/.150/.105 over 20 PA

… and the White Sox probably figured he ran his course when they non-tendered him after the season. That said, they appreciated him enough to ditch Cheslor Cuthbert for him when Oakland cut him loose in mid-July, but hold that thought.


Since his three-hit game in the opener against Milwaukee on Aug. 3, Moncada’s actions have grown increasingly labored. He’s still good for getting on base once a game, but it’s almost more out of a sense of obligation than an ability to take charge of a game. His throws across the diamond have lacked pop, often tailing to the home plate side of first. He’s 7-for-40 with a homer, a double, two walks and 14 strikeouts over his last 42 plate appearances.

To sum up that paragraph in three words: He’s dragging ass. That’s not necessarily a judgment, because he’s the team’s only confirmed COVID-19 case. Between the recovery and all the training time he lost in the process, it’s hard to say what kind of shape he’s truly in. However it’s happening, everything he’s doing is underpowered.

YearAvg. EVHard hit%Sprint speed

Renteria gave Moncada a day off before the scheduled day off, which then turned into a three-day break as the White Sox and Cardinals rearranged their weekend. The break didn’t pay immediate dividends, as Moncada went 0-for-5 with a walk and two strikeouts over the doubleheader.

If this version of Moncada is going to hover around the team for a good chunk of this season, he doesn’t do much to help. But the same can be said for Cuthbert, who hit .232/.287/.350 over his last three stints with the Royals, and without an impact glove to offset any offensive woes. Goins can stand here as well, and now Yermín Mercedes is technically an option under powers granted by the Desperate Times Act.


Between Luis Robert and Adam Engel, the White Sox have two options with something to offer at this position. García hadn’t played an inning in center this season because of that newfound depth, and probably wouldn’t be counted upon to do so. Consider this segment a mental rest stop.


Now back to your regularly scheduled doldrums.

The acquisition of Mazara was supposed to limit García’s utility in right field. Breakout or not, Mazara would get the time to show the White Sox whether he could improve upon his frustrating profile before they made grander plans for the remaining corner outfield spot.

Well, Mazara’s hitting .160/.344/.240 over his first 10 games with the White Sox, and like Moncada, it’s not necessarily damning of his abilities. He missed the last week of training camp and the first nine games of the season for a mystery ailment he later identified as strep throat, and his timing is lacking as a result.

I’ve been more surprised and alarmed by how heavy his feet have looked in right field, the most recent example being this Max Schrock single that started the Cardinals’ four-run fifth in the Saturday’s second game.

A better right fielder doesn’t necessarily make that catch. Statcast gave it an expected batting average of .330 despite (or because of) its unimpressive exit velocity (70.6) and launch angle (43 degrees). Still, start to finish, Mazara’s actions were a kind of slow I didn’t anticipate seeing from him, even if I knew that he wasn’t any sort of defensive stalwart with Texas. Perhaps Statcast’s sprint speed isn’t capturing a representative sample at the moment, but what it’s saying about Mazara so far is scary.

  • 2017: 27.0 ft/s
  • 2018: 26.8 ft/s
  • 2019: 26.5 ft/s
  • 2020: 24.7 ft/s

I’ve set a reminder on my phone alongside some other chores to check this stat later in the week, because I don’t know how stable this is. This version of Mazara is a nonentity, and while he’ll get a chance to play into shape, the circumstances are such that the White Sox have to be prepared for his season to be a wash.

What’s the backup plan? Well, it was going to be a crude platoon of García and Adam Engel that would provide defensive utility, even if you didn’t buy Engel’s hot start. Without García, Rick Renteria probably has to risk overexposing Engel, just when everything seemed to beautifully set up to avoid relying on him. If he requires a left-handed caddy, these roads lead to Nicky Delmonico.

PERTINENT: White Sox miss out on Nomar Mazara’s trial period

* * * * * * * * *

The toll of García’s absence is staggering, at least for a guy who wouldn’t be starting in a standard, non-idealized version of the White Sox lineup. A healthy Madrigal and a fully functioning Mazara would relegate García to the bench for most of a week, and few would clamor for more.

As it happened, the White Sox suffered injuries or illness at all four of García’s primary positions. Anderson seems like he’s out of the woods, but Moncada and Mazara aren’t inspiring a whole lot of confidence, which is especially perilous when their secondary utility guy is already pressed into everyday duty at second base.

The burgeoning crisis is partially indicative of García’s unique value. It’s not easy to be a jack-of-all-trades who can cover the up-the-middle positions, and it’s not easy to be offensively useful with a 7-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but he pulls it off with a smile. It’s also a byproduct of a season without the minor leagues. Proper rehab stints aren’t possible, and overachieving emergency solutions are even harder for a team like the White Sox to cultivate. I’d also mention the Sox’s issues with producing their own average players, although off-the-radar stories like Mendick and Tyler Saladino suggest that they’re decent with developing infielders of some use.

The White Sox can exercise a $3.25 million option for García in 2021. He signed the strange extension to avoid a Yolmer Sánchez situation in his final year of arbitration, and even if this hand injury threatens how power further, this erosion of their depth chart will probably automate their decision to retain him. At this rate, they might bring Sánchez back as well.

(Photo of Leury García surviving a previous dive into first base by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire)

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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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I was moving yesterday so I didn’t have time to watch either game. But I did have time to look up these stats:

Through August 4th, the White Sox were 7-4 with a team wRC+ of 125 and a slash of .284/.344/.454. Since then they are 3-7 with a wRC+ of 75 and a slash of .204/.269/.360.

Another comparison: On the road they are 8-3 with a 108 wRC+ and a slash of .275/.330/.426. At home they are 2-8 with a wRC+ of 91 and a slash of .215/.287/.395.

In my opinion, this kind of inconsistency falls on Ricky and the rest of the coaching staff. This team has too much talent to not be able to sit comfortably above .500 for a given 60 game stretch. Teams that expect to compete don’t settle for managers who cant keep the team from falling into the loss column for weeks on end (see Phillies, Padres, Mets just last offseason).


I too was moving yesterday. Absolute worst!

As Cirensica

Maybe my eyestatistic deceive me, but I have to wonder why most non-pitcher free agents or trades that come to the White Sox, under perform their norm with James McCann being the most notable exception of recent times (Jose Abreu does not count as there were no previous Major league stats to under perform).

Is it in their welcome package a team’s slogan “Under performance is OK, you will be rewarded by just showing up with apparent playing-hard style, a smile and a neat facial hair do”.


Mazara, FWIW, said his IL malady was strep throat. Regardless, he joins Grandal and Encarnacion on the long list of veteran acquisitions who join the Sox and post some of the worst offensive numbers of their careers. Whether it is in talent evaluation or preparation, the Sox have a Foltynewiczian Achilles that they are unable or unwilling to repair.

I say unwilling because there are no consequences for poor performance on this team. On one of yesterday’s threads, I noted this is Rick Hahn’s eighth season as GM to say that no GM in the 120-year history of the franchise has been given as long of a leash as he has had. I don’t think any fan of the White Sox can be accused of impatience in 2020.


Speaking of Achilles issues on the White Sox, Jake Burger has changed his representation.

Agent news: White Sox top 3B prospect Jake Burger has hired Dustin Bledsoe to represent him

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 15, 2020

As Cirensica

Next time, when you refer to Jake Burger, you need to add “top prospect” before his name.

The guy will be 25 next April and is yet to accumulate 500 PAs in the minors, but yes, top prospect. Pffft


What is it with Sox baserunners and sliding in headfirst? I recall Robert saying he couldn’t adjust to sliding in feet first like….what? Just fucking slide dude!

Yolmer's gatorade

The Mets DFA’d Brian Dozier. He got off to a rough start this year but was basically a league average second baseman last year. He would alleviate the need for Ryan Goins and be good insurance if Mendick stumbles. He could play third if Moncada needs IL time too.


Good article, Jim. I have regretted the non-tendering of Yolmer from the very start. He could be quite useful now, as no Sox infielder has a surer glove than his. Perhaps the Giants would part ways with him easily. Yolmer knows the system, is known and liked by the players and could come in and hit the ground running. It won’t happen…I know. Just silly fan talk.

Yolmer's gatorade

I support this idea.


Replace the Gatorade with rubbing alcohol and we may have an appropriate 2020 ritual.


I had a weird dream last night where the Sox announced Yolmer as the new third base coach replacing Capra.

LuBob DuRob

Losing García is another blow, but nearly every team is dealing with injuries at seemingly heightened levels. I’m not hitting the panic button yet.
Grandal is not this lifeless at the plate. Moncada will find his legs again, and the best days of Eloy and Robert are ahead.


+1 After reading three threads of doom and gloom I applaude your optimism.


Leury’s injury is another example of why Renteria should be replaced as manager. Renteria says he has told Leury that he does not approve of such slides into first, but Leury does it anyhow. Would Leury have kept doing that under a manager he respected?

Bring back Yolmer. I know that Yolmer would have turned the double play we so desperately needed during the Cardinals’ big inning yesterday. He won a Gold Glove last season for a reason.

By the way, after seeing the play again, I have no doubt that Engel makes that catch. He is much faster than Mazara and he would have gotten a better jump.


Yes, bring Yolmer back. He would have made the double play Mendick missed today.