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The White Sox held their first media conference this afternoon before the ALDS, which the club and Tony La Russa started by clarifying the status of José Abreu.
Abreu didn’t travel with the team due to flu-like symptoms that the team stressed was not COVID-19, but La Russa said Abreu’s fever broke, which was a little more detail to the statement the Sox sent out just as the session began:
José Abreu will travel to Houston tonight after battling flu-like symptoms over recent days. José is feeling better, and his symptoms are improving. Multiple tests have confirmed that his illness is not Covid-related. A decision on his availability for Game 1 of the ALDS will be made tomorrow.
La Russa acknowledged the difficulty in getting Abreu to admit that he’s less than full strength, saying they’ll have to “put his hand on the baseball bible” in hopes of an honest assessment. He did say that if Abreu isn’t in the lineup for Game 1, he’ll be in the lineup for Game 2.
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As for the players who definitely will appear in Game 1, Lance Lynn is one of them. La Russa finally made his initial plans for the postseason rotation public and presented them as though it was an open debate as to whether Lynn or Lucas Giolito would be getting the ball on Thursday.
However, when Lynn was asked in his session afterward when he found out about his Game 1 assignment, he simply stated, “Last week.”
In trying to project an ALDS rotation, I had Giolito as a Game 1 starter because he seemed like the better candidate to pitch on short rest, while the Game 2 starter would be able to make Game 5 start with the standard recovery period. Starting Lynn would seem to be a vote of confidence for the troublesome knee, because La Russa sounds like he’s not shying away from pitching guys twice.
La Russa only announced the starters for the first two games, saying that Game 3 would come down to who was used and who’s truly available, with Carlos Rodón’s status still open-ended.
After Game 3 on Sunday, reusing a starter comes into play. La Russa pointed to his experience with Chris Carpenter, who pitched twice on three days’ rest in 2011. It didn’t go so well in the ALDS, but he won Game 7 of the World Series with six-plus strong innings, validating the trust in the veteran.
So La Russa summed it up: “If you’ve got a guy that has pitches and competes, and that’s your best option, he can win. Which means the first-game pitcher can pitch Game 4, for either side.”
As for Lynn, he was asked whether he’d be ready to pitch on short rest if needed. He simply responded, “Yeah.”
(Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports)