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Even by the White Sox’s tattered standards for managing banged-up players, Luis Robert stands out, because he’s now in his second half-active state of August.
He’s been injured since jamming his wrist into Jonathan Schoop’s leg last Friday, but he’s not on the injured list. He’s available, but not today, and probably not tomorrow, either. He’s Schrödinger’s Pantera.
It’s created a situation where I wasn’t particularly excited to see Robert Wednesday night when he pinch-ran for Eloy Jiménez following a one-out walk in the eighth. Pinch-running isn’t the greatest value proposition for restarting the clock on backdating an IL stint, and Robert wasn’t likely to run considering he injured his wrist attempting a steal of second.
Sure enough, Robert moved to second base on a José Abreu single and no further, which Jiménez could’ve done. The fact that Jiménez was DHing meant that Robert couldn’t even provide a defensive boost.
The only way it would’ve felt worthwhile was if running Wednesday served as a runway back into regular starting. That doesn’t sound likely.
Earlier this month, the White Sox activated Robert from the IL despite a rehab stint that was limited to one game due to a virus. That was another off-and-on reintroduction to the lineup, but he seemed no worse for the uneven wear, going 9-for-29 with a pair of doubles and a pair of walks over seven starts.
This one seems trickier, because while lightheadedness can disappear, wrist injuries can linger. It’s already overstaying his welcome, and it’d be a lot more concerning if the Sox had anybody more compelling to take that roster spot. Adam Haseley doesn’t count, because even if he were hitting better .209/.285/.409 over the last two months, Tony La Russa doesn’t seem all that enamored with his skill set. Perhaps for good reason.
Johnny Cueto might have saved the White Sox’s season twice-over. He’s running a 2.78 ERA while giving the Sox 6½ innings a start, he’s making every start, and he’s doing it for $3.5 million. His surplus value is so significant that you could pretend that he’s making the $18 million owed to Dallas Keuchel, and you still wouldn’t take it for granted.
But I’m also wondering where the White Sox would be if Cueto hadn’t called out his teammates for a lack of fire.
Maybe somebody else would’ve done it, because José Abreu hinted at a larger dissatisfaction by telling reporters that he could only account for his effort level, but Cueto put it in blunter terms by openly questioning the Sox’s level of desire.
Because La Russa is his team’s defense lawyer, his first instinct was to deflect and deny. At the same time, Liam Hendriks said that La Russa called a meeting among team leaders two days later to discuss any issues. La Russa said the issues weren’t connected, but I’ll refer you to the first sentence.
Hendriks said that the meeting gave Abreu a platform to follow up on what he’d alluded to before, and one line made me laugh.
“One thing that was stated by Abreu was how our confidence turned into cockiness,” Hendriks said. “That’s one thing that several have said is the complacency level is we just expected to come in and roll over like we did last year. That hasn’t been the case. That was not necessarily due to other teams blowing us out of the water or anything like that. It’s been to our own detriment of us thinking we can go out there and roll over teams and be expected to win.
“But I don’t think we are too far on recalling and remembering the times we did beat our own division rivals rather than how hard some of those games were to win and what we had to do in those games to actually win. Now looking back on it I think a lot of guys are realizing it’s not just an easy thing to be able to go and win the division two years in a row. That’s something hopefully we can get back.”
The White Sox’s rich history would suggest that winning the division two years in a row is the hardest damn thing in the world, because they’ve never done it.