Tim Anderson’s injury will test White Sox’s resources, resourcefulness

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson
(Photo by Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports)

Tim Anderson’s injury is the one that necessitated the promotion of Lenyn Sosa. I found that out in between scheduling the post and it going live, but I had some thoughts about Yoán Moncada and Elvis Andrus that I wanted to pin down in case their struggles linger, and treating it like an open question served my posting purposes well enough.

But yes, the White Sox placed Anderson on the injured list with a sprained left knee. The club said he’s expected to miss two to four weeks, that’s a big two-week swing.

There’s the matter of the schedule. The White Sox have two more games against the Twins — and Daryl Van Schouwen says Moncada’s sore back will likely keep him out for the next two games as well — and it doesn’t get any easier afterwards:

  • Three vs. Baltimore
  • Three vs. Philadelphia
  • Three at Tampa Bay
  • Three at Toronto
    — NEXT TWO WEEKS —
  • Four vs. Tampa Bay
  • Three vs. Twins
  • Three at Cincinnati
  • Four at Kansas City

That’s five series against teams that figure to contend for American League postseason spots, including the entire season series against the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays. If there’s any solace, at least the Guardians don’t arrive on the schedule until mid-May.

This also doesn’t help Anderson’s quest to play something resembling a full season. Best-case scenario, he misses something like 14 games and can still target 140-plus over the remainder of the schedule. If he’s out for the full four weeks, he’s basically used up his allotment of missed games with five months left to play.

Beyond that, you have to hope that the knee sprain doesn’t hold him back like the groin issue did last season. He hit .249/.287/.290 over 39 games, and he ran just five times.

Setting aside some longer-term questions, the immediate focus turns to three people:

Pedro Grifol

I want to know what Grifol meant when he said he was “optimistic” about Anderson’s injury, because I initially interpreted that as day-to-day, or maybe a precautionary injured list stint. If Anderson only has to miss two weeks, I guess that would be close enough for those purposes. If it’s four weeks, there’s little to be optimistic about.

In the meantime, he’ll have to figure out another leadoff hitter. Anderson started all 11 games this season, so we haven’t seen Grifol try anybody else up top.

Elvis Andrus did the job well enough last year, hitting .277/.315/.511 over 33 games after coming over to the Sox. The problem is that he’s hitting .167/.200/.190 at the moment, so there’s a fine line between trying something that previously worked, and sticking with a guy who maybe shouldn’t be playing at all.

Andrew Benintendi strikes me as the most natural candidate, Yoán Moncada wouldn’t be a bad idea, especially if the back injury is sapping his power. I also endorse the idea of not overthinking it, and allowing everybody to slide up a spot to maximize plate appearances for the guys you want to see with a bat in their hands. That means Luis Robert Jr., Benintendi, Andrew Vaughn, the Gavin Sheets/Jake Burger DH platoon in the top four, and then choose the rest based on handedness.

Elvis Andrus

If a rocky adjustment to second base has distracted Andrus from resembling a standard MLB middle infielder in other respsects, his load will be lightened considerably while Anderson’s away. Sosa and Romy González can handle shortstop for a game at a time, but Andrus should be the everyday guy regardless of how well he hits.

He’s the far steadier option, and the White Sox need to know how to approach second base whenever Anderson returns. If Andrus didn’t hit at second, and he doesn’t end up hitting at short, it makes it easier to relegate him to the bench or beyond in the event of a Sosa breakout.

Speaking of which…

Lenyn Sosa

While Sosa deserved the call-ups he received during the 2022 season, it would’ve been better if the White Sox really wanted to see him. Middle-infield emergencies prompted both of his promotions. The first came after Danny Mendick’s season-ending injury, when Anderson had just come off the IL and Leury García was in a similarly delicate state. Then he briefly bridged the gap between Anderson’s hand injury and Andrus’ arrival in August.

This third promotion marks the first time that Sosa is as a credible a starting option as anybody else on the roster. Hanser Alberto is a better bet for contact and Romy González offers more athleticism, but Sosa should get the most plate appearances at second base as long as Anderson’s out. He has the tendency to look lost for his first few weeks at a level before finding his sea legs, but it’s worth enduring this time around because he offers the most upside the rest of the season. That might be needed as an Andrus replacement, or as a hedge against future Anderson and Moncada injuries.

We’ve seen Grifol commit to Oscar Colás convincingly over the first 11 games, but Colás has made it easy on his manage by hitting .306/.359/.417 and making quick adjustments after ugly sequences. We’ll see what kind of tolerance he possesses for rookie struggles if Sosa brings them to the table. Here’s a case where optimism in the face of a serious question mark would serve him well.

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HallofFrank

I don’t believe in “must-win” games before September. But, sheesh, these next two games are important. Not only do we need to see how the team responds to the Anderson injury against a division rival, but it’s Lynn and Giolito vs. the Twins’ two best righties. If Lynn and Giolito keep tossing meatballs, and the offense struggles, then the future looks really bleak. This team needed Lynn and Giolito to be good before TA’s injury. Unless they bounce back, and fast, it’s all too easy to see this season spiral out of control.

But on the bright side: we’ll all feel a lot better if Lynn and Gioltio toss a couple of gems, Lenyn Sosa drops a bomb or two, and we get a Sox sweep of the Twins in Minneapolis. Make it happen, boys.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

The Guardians magic number to clinch the AL central is 150. Yeah probably a bit early to call these games “must win”.

HallofFrank

That’s why I didn’t…. did you even read the first sentence?

LamarHoyt_oncrack

I did, which is why I was agreeing with you. Was a light hearted remark. Relax.

Greg Nix

The trade deadline is going to be spectacular. So many guys coming back from injury who are just like major additions!

As Cirensica

Hopefully it is not too late.

GrinnellSteve

And we have our first answer: Benintendi leading off, Romy at second and batting 8th, Andrus at SS and batting 9th, Burger at 3B and batting 6th. Sosa gets to acclimate to the bigs on the bench and miss a tough righty.

As Cirensica

I am gonna assume Romy starts over Sosa to give Sosa a break from his trip, and to prep his locker. I hope we will see Sosa more often than we saw him under TLR management.

GrinnellSteve

I bet Sosa starts tomorrow. I think Pedro will give him a good run. Can he play third?

Augusto Barojas

After Alberto’s homer yesterday, Burger gets start at 3b. So perhaps Alberto’s defense was not lost on Grifol, he must think even Burger is better defensively.

GrinnellSteve

He thinks Burger is a better bet to hit a three-run bomb today to atone for defensive miscues.

Augusto Barojas

It’s a shame Burger doesn’t have a real position longer term. They have so many of these guys who can hit but can’t play the field without being a liability… Burger, Eloy, Sheets, Alberto. Thankfully Vaughn switched to 1b to remove him from the list.

Augusto Barojas

I’m still in shock about Tim’s injury news. The play did not look like something that would be significant.

I know Sheets is off to a decent start and they are short handed, but him hitting 3rd is not a good look for any team. I guess that’s what they’ve got with 1/3 of their lineup nursing injuries 10+ days into the season.

ParisSox

Yeah but just wait until we get to the easy part of the schedule.

steelydan52

In an unrelated note for those who miss Rodon, his rehab hit a snag due to back tightness. He would blend in just fine with the Sox! The could almost field an All Star, All Injury team.