When we last saw Michael Kopech, he tried not to be seen, hobbling to the dugout in the straightest of lines after closing out his inning against the Cardinals on Wednesday. The White Sox identified the issue as hamstring soreness, but he went to the bereavement list instead of the injured list, so the matter of the injury’s severity went unresolved.
The Sox shed more light on the issue over the last 24 hours, first by shifting Kopech to the injured list before Monday’s doubleheader. Rick Hahn then offered more details in a rare Zoom conference with reporters on Tuesday, saying Kopech suffered a mild strain. While he might not be ready to return by next Tuesday, it shouldn’t be a lengthy stay.
It’ll be easier to take initial hamstring prognoses at face value once Adam Engel returns from his lengthy absence, which is supposed to happen next week.
* * * * * * * * *
Garrett Crochet had no such problems with his trip to the IL. After spending about two weeks on the shelf with an upper back issue, he returned to throw a scoreless May, striking out seven over 4⅔ innings.
It wasn’t completely without catches, though. He also walked four batters over those 4⅔ innings, concentrated into two outings where he threw just 12 strikes out of 32 pitches, including one where he didn’t retire any of the three batters he faced. He was properly calibrated in the other four outings and took charge accordingly.
The workload has also been weird: six outings, five of which on at least three days’ rest, and three with a margin of at least five runs. Some caution might’ve been initially warranted, but enough time passed to wonder about the greater plan.
La Russa elaborated on it before Tuesday’s game.
“We’ve really tried to be careful, not bring him back two games in a row, and when he comes in, come in for one inning,” La Russa said.
Of course, then Crochet went out and pitched two innings Tuesday night. It helped that he needed only seven pitches to knock out the first, and only extended to 20 on the evening, which would tied for the third-highest total since he returned.
Crochet threw 46 pitches over three innings in his final outing of April before going on the injured list with his back issue, so that might’ve caused the Sox to back off for a month. Perhaps the way he started June foreshadows what the month ahead will look like for him, being allowed to face three-plus batters in a game that is still within reach. Perhaps the Sox will have to make it up as they go along, and Chris Sale’s career becomes more and more of a miracle with each passing year.
* * * * * * * * *
Hahn hasn’t spoken much to reporters over the course of the season. The COVID-19 restrictions have something to do with it, because normally he’d hang out in the dugout at the start of every homestand, and the give-and-take over Zoom just isn’t the same. He also just might not be inclined to make himself available during a season where there could be all sorts of La Russa-related fires to put out.
As a result, his appearances have been at the start of months, not homestands. A lot happened over the course of the last one (which reminds me to catch up with Month in a Box), but Hahn’s far enough removed away from individual incidents like La Russa not knowing extra-innings rules or condoning retaliation at Yermín Mercedes to take a macro approach to it all.
“Most everything that’s become a big deal is a much smaller deal, it’s safe to assume,” Hahn said with a chuckle on Tuesday while speaking to beat reporters. While the team seems to have moved on from the Mercedes conflict with a sort of “agree to disagree” stance on Tony La Russa reprimanding his player for being aggressive with a big lead, Hahn downplayed concern for future conflicts as well.
“Am I concerned about fault lines? No, no,” Hahn said. “Again, it’s a very strong clubhouse that’s focused on persevering and winning that night’s game. That’s been the main priority and they’ve been able to block out distractions with just about anything that has come their way thus far.”
In between the pregame sessions and the first pitch of Tuesday’s game, WGN released the dash cam footage of La Russa’s arrest last year. Pretty much everything was captured in the original police report, which is why the White Sox responded with annoyance more than anything.
As he stated in December 2020 at the resolution of his case, Tony La Russa expressed embarrassment, deep remorse and contrition for his actions that evening. He also completed the terms of his sentence. After already publicly addressing this matter and taking responsibility for his actions — which resulted in a plea agreement for reckless driving — it is unclear to us how the release of this video today qualifies as being newsworthy. We prefer to focus on continuing to improve as people, as a team and as an organization, both on and off the field.
WGN said it filed the FOIA request the day of the arrest, so it’s at the mercy of public agencies and the speed with which they respond. I suppose the news is that there is no news, which is probably what everybody involved would prefer to be the case for a first-place team going forward.
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)