Straight doubleheaders are a rare find in baseball’s current landscape, which makes Monday’s back-to-back White Sox-Cleveland Indians games feel like a throwback to an era when Ernie Banks made “let’s play two” a baseball catchphrase.
The second game of Monday’s doubleheader will begin at 7:10 p.m. or 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 1, providing players little time to cool off and regroup from the first half of the day. But manager Robin Ventura doesn’t see any mental issues arising from having these two games be played without much of a break in between.
“I think guys, if they know it going into it, it’s not as big a deal,” Ventura said. “But if you just sprung it on them, that’d probably piss them off a little bit.”
The White Sox called up right-hander Tommy Kahnle as their 26th player for Monday’s doubleheader, with the reliever available for both games. The team will have to make a roster move after Game 1 to place right-hander Erik Johnson on the 25-man roster for Game 2, which he’ll start.
Because Johnson isn’t the 26th player on the roster — which is allowed for doubleheaders — he won’t necessarily be sent back to Triple-A after Monday’s second game. Ventura said a decision on Johnson’s role, either as a major leaguer or back in the minors, will be figured out later.
Jose Abreu returned to the White Sox lineup for Game 1 after getting Sunday off and is hitting fifth. The 29-year-old first baseman, prior to Monday, never hit below fourth in the White Sox order in his three-year major league career.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins was one player Ventura said likely won’t play in both games — he started at shortstop in Game 1 — while Dioner Navarro (Game 1) and Alex Avila (Game 2) will almost certainly split time behind the plate.
Right fielder Avisail Garcia is expected to be in the White Sox lineup for Game 2 after sitting out three of the team’s last four games. While the 24-year-old has hit better this season, he has just one hit in his last 13 plate appearances.
The biggest key for the White Sox, though, will be getting a good chunk of innings out of Game 1 starter Mat Latos. The White Sox don’t have an off day until June 2 and are in a stretch of 11 consecutive games against the second- and third-place teams in the American League Central.
“That can always be a difficult proposition when you know you have at least 18 innings to fill,” Ventura said. “You want your guys to go deep into games. The biggest disaster comes when a guy doesn't make it out of the second or third. You're going to fill innings all day."