A full 162-game baseball schedule takes more than 4,400 hours to complete, but if you were to slice the last 24 hours from the body of work, the result would be a rather comprehensive representation of the season to date.
A serious injury: Tim Anderson is projected to be out for six weeks after tearing the sagittal band on his left hand.
A flat performance to open a series: The White Sox can handle a sinker. The White Sox can handle a slider. The White Sox can not handle both a sinker and a slider.
A mediocre showing in a win: The White Sox faced Jonathan Heaseley and his 5.82 ERA. They won, but only 3-2, and mostly because Davis Martin fared better than Lance Lynn in Game 1.
Too much Leury García: And finally, this question is more about his own good than ours.
Starting at shortstop as Anderson’s injury-related absence officially began (he missed the last two games with a suspension), Garcia played both games in the doubleheader and went 0-for-7 with an HBP and three strikeouts.
It’s not that he went 0-for-7 with three strikeouts, but how. During his first plate appearance of Game 2, he seemed to tweak his right knee or calf, and he spent the remainder of the game flailing at pitches with no lower-body engagement.
Fun fact: MLB.com’s video compiler limits collections to 10 videos, so this leaves out García’s last three swings of the game. To his credit, he was able to upper-body a fly ball to deepish left in his last trip.
This feels like the perfect distillation of a 4½-month-long problem. Tony La Russa kept sending García to plate despite the mounting video evidence demanding another course of action. García saw 15 pitches over four trips and swung at 13 of them, including five pitches out of the zone, even though his body wanted him to take three every time up.
Thankfully, Lenyn Sosa picked a great time for his best game yet. His first three plate appearances were all successes:
- A 106.1 mph home run to left.
- A 102.8 mph single through the middle.
- A 95.8 mph lineout to right, featuring a great catch in right.
Here’s how they looked:
Sosa struck out on an 100.6 mph Josh Staumont fastball his last time up, which is one of those occasions where you can actually say, “He probably didn’t see many of those in the minors.” But otherwise, he made a fine second impression on Tony La Russa.
“Anyone who hits a home run and gets a hit injects energy to our club; we’re looking for runs,” La Russa said. “He gets called up and produces. That’s more impressive.”
But its impact could be minimal:
La Russa said Sosa might play shortstop Wednesday and could play second base or third Thursday afternoon.
On one hand, I can appreciate the limited road map. Heaseley was the Royals’ 27th man, so Sosa benefited from a favorable reintroduction by facing the kind of pitcher he’d seen at Charlotte. The task gets gradually tougher against Kris Bubic and Zack Greinke over the next two days, so it’s worth reserving enthusiasm for one day at a time.
On the other hand, I’d really like to know what what was up with García’s swings on Tuesday. He hasn’t been playable when perfectly healthy this season, so starting him should be a nonstarter when he looks as bad as he feels. Yet García hit for himself against Amir Garrett with two on and two out in the sixth inning on Tuesday, and he struck out on four pitches, swinging helplessly at all of them.
Maybe Josh Harrison was banged up from the pitch he took to the elbow in Game 1, and either choice for the middle infield wasn’t going to swing the bat in a convincing fashion. OK, but that only extends to an in-game excuse. When planning out series and weeks, the White Sox need to make sure whatever options they roll out in Anderson’s place are fully functional.
After all, when Anderson suffered his first significant injury of the season back in May, García offered little over the following three weeks. He hit .200/.213/.222 over 13 games. Instead, Danny Mendick stepped up in a way that nobody expected. He reversed a multi-year trend of diminishing returns by hitting .311/.363/.446 in his last 20 games of the season, and he played a respectable shortstop as well.
It’s hard to believe that Mendick could be missed so much, which is a testament both to how well he played and how he briefly prevented everything coming back to García. It’d be nice to give Sosa that kind of run, especially if the choice simply boils down to Health Guy vs. Hobbled Guy. La Russa presented the choice simply …
“The more you do, the more you play,” La Russa said.
… but we know by now that La Russa can only be judged by his actions, and those actions have resulted in 281 plate appearances for García this season. It’s one thing if García is swinging the bat with his usual aplomb, because he’s shown the ability to get hot. On Tuesday night, he labored to simply go through the motion in the batter’s box. It’s either a painfully temporary situation like a charley horse, or it’s the loudest cry for help in a season full of them.