Think your travel schedule has been rough?
Might want to talk to Juan Minaya to get some perspective. The White Sox reliever has had a heck of a month all in the last week.
Minaya rejoined the White Sox on Thursday afternoon for the second time this week and less than 24 hours after he had been optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte. Prior to that, the rookie made several lengthy bus trips with the Knights totaling more than 700 miles. Minaya, who already is up for the fourth time this season, hasn’t unpacked his suitcase since June 19.
“Sometimes in baseball, you never know where you’re going to be,” Minaya said. “So you have to be ready.”
The White Sox coaching staff is also well versed in on-the-fly situations. The team has suffered four injuries to its starting pitchers this season and five to relievers, including Jake Petricka twice. Petricka was placed on the 10-day DL on Thursday with right elbow inflammation, which set off this latest Minaya merry-go-round.
Multiple injuries to starting pitchers has resulted in a many short outings and a ton of bullpen usage. Last week, manager Rick Renteria said the bullpen’s workload was “unsustainable” and eventually would catch up to the unit. Over their past 36 games, White Sox pitchers have averaged a tick over 4 2/3 innings per start.
With such a heavy workload, the White Sox have had to predetermine on numerous occasions how they’d navigate through the next game without several pitchers being available.
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Pitching coach Don Cooper said he had a funny moment earlier Thursday when he tried to determine how long before Minaya had been sent back to Charlotte. The combination of injuries and rebuilding have led to some challenging obstacles for the coaching staff, too.
“How many days off has he had?” Cooper said. “It’s been two days. OK, so he’s ready to give us a couple of innings tonight.
“Injuries as well as rebuilding sometimes is a trying process. We’re retooling, so it’s a trying process.”
Minaya’s recent schedule defines trying. The White Sox had previously sent him back to Charlotte and he was activated on June 16. Three days later, the Knights began a road trip with a 210-mile bus ride from Charlotte to face the Gwinnett Braves. After four long days in Gwinnett, including two rain outs and a doubleheader, the Knights boarded the bus again for a 350-mile trip to face the Durham Bulls. Charlotte’s series against Durham concluded with a Sunday night game during which Minaya learned he would rejoin the White Sox on Monday -- but not before he made the 150-mile bus trip back to Charlotte.
Minaya arrived in Charlotte around midnight Sunday and headed to the airport the next morning. He pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings Monday against the New York Yankees and spent Tuesday night in the bullpen. Minaya learned after Tuesday’s game he would be sent back to Charlotte and didn’t get to sleep until 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning. He rejoined the Knights at 4 p.m. on Wednesday and found out at 11 p.m. he was headed back to Chicago.
Though he’s road weary, Minaya is more than happy to be back in the big leagues.
“I feel very good,” Minaya said. “It’s tough a little bit taking planes back and forth, but that’s the way it is. I’m glad to be here again.”
“Same airline. They probably know me by now.”