Injury notes: Yoán Moncada’s close call, Andrew Vaughn’s sore back

White Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada
(Photo by Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports)

The last thing anybody wanted to see during an 11-run game between the United States and Cuba was Yoán Moncada on the ground in shallow left field.

His World Baseball Classic experience ended a couple innings earlier than the other players in the lineup, as he collided into left fielder Roel Santos far too deep into left field on the final out of the sixth inning.

It could’ve been a disastrous way to end an otherwise successful World Baseball Classic for Moncada, who hit .435/.519/.739 with more walks (four) than strikeouts (three) in 27 plate appearances. Pedro Grifol said it’s only bruised ribs and not a concussion, so assuming that description holds, you can downgrade “disastrous” to “disappointing.”

The scare is fresh is enough to make a White Sox fan reconsider their thoughts on injuries during the WBC now that there’s an example close to home. It’s easy to write off Edwin Diaz’s torn knee ligament and José Altuve’s broken finger as unfortunate outcomes from playing baseball, but there’s a possibility that those specific injuries wouldn’t have occurred in lower-stakes settings.

But then you think about all the time White Sox infielders and outfielders have collided due to miscommunication over the years, and yeah, Moncada was still probably safer playing for Cuba.

Luis Robert Jr. will join Moncada on his way back to the White Sox after a quieter tournament. He hit .259/.286/.296 with a double, no walks and eight strikeouts, but at least he looks like he’ll be able to play right away.


Speaking of far-too-familiar frights, Andrew Vaughn missed the last week of Cactus League action due to a sore back, and here’s where we’re going to get our first sense of Grifol as an honest broker.

Vaughn has dealt with back and leg problems during his first two seasons in the majors, and his inability to maintain his base throughout the season is why he’s hit .169/.222/.261 over 40 career September games. Seeing such issues surface so early in the season is enough to trip alarms, not just because of his history, but because he’s replacing José Abreu, who played in 97 percent of the White Sox’s games over the last four seasons.

Grifol is trying to downplay the severity.

“Andrew’s going to take a few days off,” Grifol said. “We’re going to err on the side of caution. He’s had a ton [31] of at-bats. He’s played a ton.” […]

“He’s in a good spot,” Grifol said. “There’s no reason to push him through anything. I’m sure if you asked him right now if he could play, he’d say yeah. But we’re not going to push him through anything right now. He’s had a great camp. He feels comfortable at first base. We like where his swing is at. He likes where his swing is at. So we’re good.”

In Grifol’s favor, he’s correct in that Vaughn played early, often and well. He’s hitting .323/.364/.516, and even with the time off, he’s fifth on the White Sox in plate appearances. He’s told no lies so far, and they tried to establish progress today.

But there’s still reason to harbor some suspicion, because the excuses they gave for Vaughn’s leg issues last season never really held water. Maybe Vaughn wasn’t use to running around the outfield, but neither was Gavin Sheets, and despite being two years older, considerably larger and frequently hitting the ground like five bags of Quikrete falling off a forklift, Sheets never dealt with the same wear and tear.

Moving back to first base was supposed to alleviate these concerns, and now he’s dealing with them sooner, so it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. That said, it’s important to let Grifol establish his own credibility with injury descriptions instead of lumping him in with last year’s negligence. It just would’ve been nice if the first unclear health situation concerned a less important player.

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As Cirensica

Because it is the spring training, I am not concerned. Having said that  “We’re going to err on the side of caution.” brings me bad memories when TLR rested players aplenty. Players that didn’t need rest but a trip to the IL. The excessive babysitting plus the “it’s too early, and the schedule soften in the 2nd half” doomed the White Sox during 2022.

I am hoping Grifol can successfully identify players that need 1 or 2 days off from players that need to be in the IL. This was something TLR was terrible at by a maddening degree you’d think it was intentional.

FishSox

It’ll all work out when we get to the easy part of the schedule.

Augusto Barojas

Speaking of easy part of schedule, has anybody pointed out the contrast between the April schedules of the Guardians and Sox?

The Sox first 9 series include 5 against teams that made the playoffs last year (and both World Series teams), and only two teams that were under .500 – the Pirates, and Twins. The Guardians first 9 series include 6 teams that were under .500, including 5 that lost 90 games last year. If the Sox wind up 4 or 5 back by May 1, that would probably be average expected outcome. Less than that would have to be considered a win. But the Sox could be chasing the Guards all year if they start slow and the Guards clean up on exceedingly weak opponents.

a-t

The schedule’s balanced for everyone, no? I’d almost rather see the best teams early when they’re healthiest than later when presumably beat up

As Cirensica

Good teams players will also be beaten up. The event sequencing on the schedule can have very different meanings from one team to another.

Last edited 1 year ago by As Cirensica
Greens

I usually prefer seeing the best teams in the first half as well simply bc they usually get stronger after the trade deadline whereas the weak teams get weaker. Also, as we will see with Altuve out, it’s harder to replace key players early on for teams that would be inclined to do so.

itaita

On that Cuba/US game last night i had no idea about the protests and such that were going to happen. Was odd seeing so many Cubans being anti team Cuba last night in the stadium. I can see why some of the players might’ve cashed out early after the US put a couple runs up. Didn’t seem like it was very fun to play there unlike every other time Cuba plays in Miami.

That aside i cant wait to see Sasaki tonight. And no matter who US plays in the final is a fun matchup.

Alfornia Jones

Can’t say enough how poor the decision was to extend Moncada in spring of 2020, which was after the Eloy and Robert extensions. You just can’t gamble on three of these deals at once. The only other play that would epitomize Yoan would be a video of him running to first and him grabbing his hamstring right after the bag. There would be close to 162 replays of this every year.

Looking at his contract, did all they get is one additional really expensive club option year for $25mil? I know he had a great 2019, but it just doesn’t make sense what they paid extra to get. He was already on the clock for two full years so they immediately committed to way over his arb value based on one good season, granted it was way above average.

Ian Happ is on a similar timeline and is making $10mil this year and one year of arb left. They aren’t the same player, but this is why most teams don’t buy years. Its lazy to state that it was stupid, but it was stupid.

Qubort

It’s amazing this club payroll is as high as it is with so many unproven parts. Rick Hahn wanted to be the smartest person in the room and it has not gone well.

As Cirensica

Which should surprise nobody but Hahn.

a-t

I don’t really agree. Extensions have worked pretty well for Hahn in the past. Sale and Quintana a while ago, while TA’s is still looking fantastic. Moncada got an extra big one bc (1) he was a former global no. 1 prospect apparently turning on the afterburners in the bigs and (2) he wasn’t desperate for money bc of his bonkers $30M signing bonus from Boston. That he’s underwhelmed since is in part such high expectations; 2020 was mulliganed bc he got long-COVID, he was again pretty good but not 2019 level in ‘21, and I’d say ‘22 was the sole genuinely disappointing season. If he bounces back to somewhere between ‘21 and ‘19, the extension really won’t be bad, it’ll be below market rate still.

HallofFrank

Yep. It’s the nature of these extensions to incur some risk. And it’s the nature of risk to hurt sometimes. It was a fine idea with fine execution. It just didn’t work out as planned.

Alfornia Jones

The TA, Sale, Eaton and Quintana contracts topped out around $13million, including the option years. Yoan’s last year is $24mil and option is $25mil, and he’s been paid way over arb last year and this year. There was no point to this extension and it handcuffed payroll for 23 and 24. An already wealthy Yoan said if you want to pay me way over scale through the end of arbitration, and then pay me superstar salaries for 2 additional years of control, then where do I sign. The excess value to the player side is obscene, he would have needed to average a Manny Machado from ’23-’25 for the team to mostly break even.

Eloy tops out at $14 mil his last year with two option years avg $17mil. Robert tops out at $15mil with two $20mil options. Even though these deals still favor the player side, its close enough to justify the stability.

HallofFrank

The increase in value is part inflation, part Yoan being the #1 overall prospect, and part the costs of extensions going up in general—in part because of how team-friendly the Sox extensions were.

It’s fine if you want to say it was a bad idea, but it’s silly to say “there was no point to this extension.” This was an extremely talented player coming off a 5 WAR season. They added two years of control. How is that not a point?

If he kept up his 2019 performance, this would be an excellent contract for the Sox. Even if he returned to his 2021 performance, it’d probably be fine.

a-t

Eloy’s and Robert’s deals favor the player side at the moment bc they’ve been hurt, and they’re cheaper bc they happened when Eloy/Robert were about to debut, not having just put up 5.5 fWAR when they signed.

If you look at 2019 Moncada and see a 4-6 WAR player— pretty reasonable— then two $25M years are ~$5M/WAR, which is (1) perfectly reasonable and (2) equivalent in AAV to what Bogaerts, a reliable 4-6 WAR player, just signed. But Bogaerts’ deal is deceptive; there’s obviously a bunch of years at the end of that 11-year megadeal where he’s not going to be worth $25.5M a year at all. So realistically it’s more like $40M/Y for his remaining peak years.

Hence, two years at $25M for a 4-6 WAR player is actually quite good; it’s just not an absolute steal like TA’s contract presently is, or Robert’s contract will be if he can stay on the damn field. Yoan falling off so harshly in ‘22 doesn’t mean he’s cooked, though.

FishSox

Is there a good argument against Hanser Alberto being our utility guy?

Augusto Barojas

I can’t see taking Hamilton over him. Hamilton has a sub .600 OPS vs RHP since 2018 or something. He is hitting under .100 this spring while Alberto is raking, and a .270 lifetime hitter. I know there might be some haters who would be tempted to take Hamilton over Leury, but I really think that’s overestimating Hamilton’s value and selling Leury short. Prior to 2022, Leury hit .270 like clockwork the prior 5 years. Hamilton is such a bad hitter that it makes him completely unplayable as a starter.

If they take Hamilton over Alberto, then Leury is their only backup for 2b, SS, 3b. If they take Hamilton over Leury, Hamilton is their only backup OF (that can actually field), and Alberto is their only infield backup. I’d go with Alberto and Leury. I just wish their other outfield backup options were better than Hamilton, Reyes, or Marisnick… Jesus. If Leury is arguably the best option of a few players, that’s got to be one heck of a bad group. Inexcusable and utterly pathetic that they did not address that this winter. Get any decent functioning outfielder and then you can cut Leury and the rest of them.

a-t

Haseley is a backup outfield option, and is making a case as best he can that he’s a decent functioning outfielder. Hitting .481/.500/.630 in 28 PA this spring. I’ve more hope for him than Reyes or Hamilton, at least.

Last edited 1 year ago by a-t
Augusto Barojas

I completely agree. I would take Haseley or Leury over Hamilton. If they’re gonna cut Leury, it can’t be for a guy hitting under .100 this spring who had barely 20 at bats last year with only one hit, and that no other team wanted.

As Cirensica

Yes, we can’t have a guy hitting .100 in the Spring Training to replace Leury and his robust .200/259/400 slash line.

Alfornia Jones

Jurickson Profar just went for under $8mil on a one year deal. For a team allergic to long term commitment, these are the type of deals they need to be hunting for. Profar gives you a MLB starting OF as your 4th, and the commitment is nothing. You need 4 OF’s to have 3. Colorado is baseball hell too, they have less than zero chance for the postseason.

I think they are pretty solid in the infield when the injuries start hitting, but big hole in the OF when the first one goes down or Colas hits the skids. This is how you finish in 3rd place.

bobsquad

I would assume the reason Profar settled for a one year deal is that he found a situation where will be getting everyday playing time and batting near the top of the lineup: two things almost no one else was willing to offer him. He’s focused on his next contract after a flop of a free agency.

Last edited 1 year ago by bobsquad
a-t

Profar is basically LF-only now; he can’t defend anywhere else very credibly. So is Benintendi. So for $8M Profar is basically only Benny insurance… which is not really worth it. His arm’s quite weak so he can’t really be in RF, and he’s much too slow for CF.

At no point in time should we ever be looking at what the Colorado Rockies are doing, and say “we shoulda done that!”. There’s a reason no one else wanted him.

ForsterFTOG

Billy Hamilton would make a great first base coach. Infectious positive personality and he seems to not be a letch like the current one.

Joe

frequently hitting the ground like five bags of Quikrete falling off a forklift”

That’s some Angell-level stuff there, Jim

ParisSox

Vaughn should take up yoga. Just saying.

shaggy65

When Yoan went down and wasn’t moving my initial fear was quelled when I remembered that he always makes things look worse than they are.

Still, bruised ribs are the kind of injury that can linger for awhile if not properly rested. Here’s hoping the Sox err on the side of caution. I’d rather miss him for the first week of April than screw up his swing for several months.

ParisSox

he must be unbearable when he has man-cold

Nellie Fox

with a 162 game schedule and these players from the sox are averaging maybe 80 games played over the last few years, the ownership needs to accept mediocre results from complete responsibility. In august of last year, our coaches were telling players not to run hard in order for them to save their legs? Yes, sox fans, we must accept the medicore players as well.

Jason

Alright, if no one else will say it, I will.

What is wrong with the White Sox that they can be hurt so easily?

How does he bruise his ribs from a slow jog side swipe of a stationary player? This is years now of Sox players injured through either routine athletic movements (ie running) or seemingly low risk events like this.

I just don’t get it.