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Even without knowing anything about what he was capable of providing the 2021 White Sox, Adam Eaton‘s spotty health history made a trip to the injured list more a matter of “when” than “if.”
The visuals over the last month or so haven’t been any more encouraging, and everybody involved finally copped to what everybody else had been seeing.
The White Sox placed Eaton on the 10-day injured list this afternoon with a strained right hamstring, retroactive to Tuesday. They called up Zack Burdi to take his roster spot, if not his place (although you never know, given the team’s precarious outfield depth).
Eaton’s hitting .195/.296/.345 on the season, but it’s even uglier when realizing he front-loaded that line. Over his last 34 games, it’s .147/.264/.263. In June, it’s .161/.235/.226. His 2021 is a matryoshka doll of production, and we’re down to smaller and smaller groundouts to second base at this point. His spray chart for the month:
The state of his legs was my primary issue with signing him in the first place, and it’s been an acute concern for Tony La Russa since the first week of May. Eaton came through with moments here and there to make him feel more rosterable than, say, Luis González, but he hasn’t been an asset to a lineup since April. With Brian Goodwin arriving and looking capable of useful at-bats from the same side of the plate, the White Sox finally amassed enough redundancy to see if rest can cure Eaton’s woes.
With Eaton on the injured list, and preceded by Eloy Jiménez’s ruptured pectoral tendon and Luis Robert’s torn hip flexor, the White Sox’s entire Plan A outfield is on the shelf at the same time, along with Billy Hamilton. That makes La Russa’s conservative deployment of Adam Engel quite understandable, especially since Engel suffered a more serious hamstring strain with an accompanying setback.
Burdi doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a team that had to set up a recurring Google Calendar reminder to make sure Matt Foster is fed, but there isn’t anybody in Charlotte who is demanding consideration with his performance, at least among those already on the 40-man roster.
I suppose it’s a little surprising that the White Sox didn’t use the occasion to end Jace Fry‘s rehab stint since he’s made nine appearances with Charlotte. He is getting further away from MLB-quality performances, what with four walks on top of five hits over his last 4⅔ innings. Sometimes that kind of stagnation can be chalked up to boredom, but considering Fry has walked a fine line with the strike zone in previous seasons, he’s not somebody who can take a roster spot for granted, especially if he’s not all the way recovered from his microdisectomy.
Besides, recalling Fry at this point would create the same issue as promoting somebody with better recent numbers like Nik Turley. Because Fry is on the 60-day injured list, somebody from the 40-man would have to be removed before Fry could return. There’s certainly roster fat for trimming, but Fry might not have a use case in his current form that demands it.
(Photo by Matt Marton / USA TODAY Sports)