Last year, when the pandemic threatened an entire season and Major League Baseball and the Players Association were exchanging more barbs than offers, The Athletic’s Mark Carig poked fun at the discourse that framed every week as “a big week for baseball,” and gave his new column the same name.
For the team with which we are concerned, this year offers a similar vibe. Last week was A Big Week for the White Sox because they got to see how they measured up against the best teams in the American League. Going 2-5 against the Rays and Astros answered that question to the negative to some degree, although it also caught them at the end of a stretch of 17 games in 18 days.
SOX MACHINE PODCAST: Bad Weekend in Houston
The White Sox will have neither fatigue nor quality of opponent working against them for the next two series. Off days surround this pair of games in Pittsburgh that starts today, after which they return home to host Seattle at Guaranteed Rate Field, which will be able to host at 100 percent capacity for the first time since 2019. With Cleveland narrowing the gap to two games with a win over the Cubs on Monday, the scenario creates a new Big Week for the White Sox, even though there isn’t a postseason preview to be found.
That said, an off day on Monday failed to spare the White Sox another injury. Adam Engel returns to the injured list with another episode of a strained right hamstring, with Luis González coming up from Charlotte to take his place.
The conservative way the White Sox deployed Engel suggested that he wasn’t out of the woods. He hit .241/.313/.552 with three homers in 10 games, so he should’ve played just about every day based on performance alone. Alas, Engel started consecutive games just once over his two weeks on the roster based on the training staff’s recommendation, and now we know why.
Engel ‘s injury makes it five White Sox outfielders on the shelf at one time. He’s also burdened by the fourth active hamstring injury, joining Adam Eaton, Nick Madrigal and Michael Kopech in that department. It doesn’t help that Leury García played in only one of the four games in Houston due to a sore knee, which is why González is back on the roster despite hitting just .195/.302/.341. That line includes a boost from Truist Field, which is the scary part.
This is all why I put outfield ahead of second base on the White Sox’s list of midsummer needs when discussing the Eduardo Escobar trade rumor. It’s also why the White Sox can’t look at the spate of injuries elsewhere in the division and get cocky. That’s only good for cold comfort.
(Photo by David Banks / USA TODAY Sports)