Following up: Luis Robert is back, sort of

While Luis Robert has been off the injured list since Tuesday, he’s finally supposed to return to the lineup tonight as DH. Then he’s supposed to play the outfield on Friday. Then he’s expected to be off on Saturday, followed by another start in the outfield on Sunday.

When it comes to Robert, it’s hard to trust best-laid plans. He only played in one rehab game for Charlotte in Nashville last week before what was initially described as a cold halted it. Then the White Sox activated him from the injured list on Tuesday, even though they had no immediate plans to play him.

Now the White Sox are carefully reintroducing him to the lineup, with Rick Hahn using the passive voice to describe Robert’s aborted rehab assignment, as though the front office had no say over it.

“We’re gonna have to govern his usage a bit,” general manager Rick Hahn said before the second game of a three-game series versus the Kansas City Royals. “As you all know, it was not a normal rehab assignment in this case. We do have to be a little careful with the amount we ask of Luis early on.” […]

Hahn informed the media that Robert’s symptoms have gone away since his inability to play during his assignment. They believe he was suffering the “effects of a virus” and found a “couple of vitamin deficiencies” they were able to take care of.

Without an official diagnosis, Hahn and the staff are unsure if he will experience these symptoms again, but have more confidence that he won’t.

When I wrote about the White Sox’s bizarre handling of Robert’s situation last week, a couple of Sox Machinists in the discussion put forth the idea of medical privacy, and that maybe those on the outside don’t need to be apprised of specifics if a player doesn’t want them known.

From the outside, it’s less about building a medical file on a player, and more about managing expectations. When a player is benched with “flu-like symptoms,” that player could have the flu. It could also be food poisoning, a hangover, or something more intimate. The exact symptoms are none of our business, but it’s a simple way to convey that a player is unavailable for 24 to 72 hours.

Then there are open-ended situations like what the Tigers are facing with Eduardo Rodriguez. They placed him on the restricted list due to a personal matter back in June “until further notice,” and aside from a general statement confirming his safety and well being, they refused to provide any details when asked for the reason, invoking the privacy of the discussions. Fans might be irritated that a major offseason addition went AWOL during the season, but at least they know to not count on a standard time table.

Based on the White Sox’s words and actions, it’s hard to build even a general, cohesive understanding of what Robert’s dealing with, or what the Sox are trying to get out of him. And when you combine it with other confusingly handled issues — AJ Pollock’s lack of rehab stint in April, Yasmani Grandal being allowed to play 59 games while slugging .236, persistent questions about reliever availability and two-thirds of the lineup governing its general hustle — it’s less about Robert, and more about if the White Sox can be counted on to successfully manage to health of their players. He just happens to present the most befuddling case to date.

PERTINENT: The White Sox are getting worse at describing their health despite all the practice


While a bunch of outlets produce pieces about the trade deadline’s winners, losers, studs, duds, snubs and flubs, Dan Szymborski’s evaluation is probably the most instructive, because it involves recalculating ZiPS projections to account for the relevant player movement elsewhere.

The White Sox topped Szymborski’s losers list, because the combination of their general inactivity with the Twins’ proactive approach lowered their probability of winning the division below 50 percent (49.3), and took 5 percent off their postseason chances (now at 59.5 percent).

Losers

1. Chicago White Sox (-4.9% playoffs, -0.8% World Series)

The White Sox have definite holes and did nothing to fill them, while the Twins took the opposite approach. Improvements made by the Mariners, Rays, and Blue Jays are also a downward drag on the AL Central teams in scenarios in which they don’t take the division. It’s no less likely than before that zero wild card spots will go to AL Central teams, so the two teams watching the Twins do something are the big losers here. Chicago outranks Cleveland in this case because ZiPS thought the former was the better bet to make the playoffs of the two.

The White Sox have spent the last two days showing why greater additions might be unnecessary for taking the division. Lance Lynn had his best stuff of the season, Eloy Jiménez is shooting line drives all over the field, and Jake Diekman has retired all six batters he’s faced. Those are three guys the White Sox haven’t had for any length of time in 2022, and if Robert can somehow rejoin them at or near 100 percent, then the White Sox just might shift shapes enough for any algorithm to nail them down with any confidence.

Those games could also be a product of facing the Kansas City Royals, so it’s worth keeping this third-party assessment in mind when the competition gets tougher.

PERTINENT: Dormant deadline another self-imposed failure for White Sox to overcome | After a quiet trade deadline, White Sox only have Charlotte for help now

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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a-t

Well, today they get to face a young LHP making his major league debut instead of Jon Gray, while the division competition has to wrangle the Blue Jays and Astros. Could easily be in 1st by the end of the weekend.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! Don’t speak it aloud!

soxygen

On the other hand…we just got shut down by KC’s LHP Lynch, have a 10-11 record in games started by LHP, and in this day and age who knows whether we’ll still be facing this young lefty by the time the 4th inning rolls around, so you know, we’ll see!

Last edited 12 days ago by soxygen
a-t

Well, the Rangers bullpen isn’t exactly gangbusters either

mrridgman

In addition, there’s our stellar record in first games of a series.

soxygen

Right, and our horrible track record in the first 3 innings of games this year, when we can be pretty sure said young lefty will be on the mound

a-t

Adding to the curse via unreasonable optimism: the division rivals’ pitching matchups are Gray vs Manoah and Verlander vs Plesac.

Right Size Wrong Shape
To Err is Herrmann

Wow. Apparently, Ragans is an all-seeing, all-knowing being hovering over centerfield. Could be tough to hit.

However, the Sox have less trouble with left-handed omnipotent pitchers than they do with right-handed pitchers with mediocre sliders.

As Cirensica

As you all know, it was not a normal rehab assignment in this case. We do have to be a little careful with the amount we ask of Luis early on.

As we all know? That’s the problem Rick, we know shit and you are not helping.

a-t

So, Szymborski clarified something re Robert and the team sharing info: apparently the CBA only allows teams to publicly share “employment-related” medical info about their players. As whatever is going on with him— hopefully it really is just something as easily fixable as vitamin deficiencies, which tracks as per his Instagram the guy appears to mostly subsist on Domino’s pizza— isn’t from playing, they supposedly aren’t really allowed to be more specific.

metasox

At the trade deadline, Hahn must have been overworked signing up his players for Tovala and Blue Apron

soxygen

It could be all the pizza. There are other conditions (such as certain auto-immune conditions, inflammatory conditions, some kinds of arthritis) that can cause the body to have trouble metabolizing certain vitamins.

lifelongjd

Not trying to be too invasive or speculative, but Robert may have suffered from vertigo, which is difficult to not only diagnose but treat. Hence the vagueness/weirdness of the entire situation. But it’s the Sox, who are masters at being awkward.

That being said, I am so hopeful he can return and put it past him. Getting him back combined with a productive Eloy will lead to the Sox stacking some wins.

asinwreck

it’s less about Robert, and more about if the White Sox can be counted on to successfully manage to health of their players.

Given the unfortunate history Jerry Reinsdorf’s other business has had in managing employees’ health and well-being, it begs the question of whether this ownership has settled into complacent relationships with medical professionals.

If I’m sounding like a broken record about the need to get Jerry Reinsdorf out of power it is only because Jerry Reinsdorf is in a locked groove of demonstrating he has no business running a business.

soxfan

I normally find little to quibble with in Jim’s writing, but I would like to point out that “flu-like symptoms” always means “hangover” in professional sports.

ParisSox

where have you gone, Herm Schneider? A nation of Sox fans turns its lonely eyes to you.

a-t

Lineup card out. Grandal catching and hitting 8th, Harrison at 2B, no Leury. Maybe the most sane lineup this year all things considered.

HallofFrank

This is the best lineup of the season, both in construction and in content. Golly, it really isn’t difficult to see this lineup being a beast. If only Pollock, Grandal, and Moncada could hit like even their friggin’ 25% outcomes.

upnorthsox

3 games in a row Mr Garcia has sat. Maybe Tony should take naps more often.

NDSox12

Agreed… An outfield of Eloy, Pollock and Vaughn is a little scary though.

a-t

It’s a little scary defensively, but it’s a lot scary offensively to an opposing LHP

hankthetank35

I don’t know how to look up the numbers but seems like Vaughn has hit really well when batting 2nd. I’d be cool with him staying there a while and Robert being anywhere from 3rd to 5th

a-t

You can look up stuff like that via FanGraphs’ splits took. AV batting second this year: 216 PA, .299/.347/.452, 128 wRC+. For the season he’s at .299/.348/.462, 131 wRC+, so basically identical.

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