White Sox

White Sox 'excited' as Brett Lawrie heads on rehab assignment

White Sox 'excited' as Brett Lawrie heads on rehab assignment

MIAMI — One of 10 White Sox players currently on the disabled list, Brett Lawrie headed out Saturday on a rehab assignment.

The White Sox second baseman has been out of the lineup since July 22 with a strained left hamstring injury that manager Robin Ventura described as tricky. Lawrie — who is hitting .248/.310/.413 and is third on the team with 22 doubles and 12 home runs — originally hoped his missed time would be minimal. But the complexity of the injury kept him sidelined until the last few days.

After he passed several tests Friday, Lawrie joined Double-A Birmingham. How long he’ll need on his rehab will be determined the way Lawrie’s leg responds to game action.

“You’re going to see how he handles his first few games and we’ll go from there,” Ventura said. “Hopefully everything goes well the first game he is playing and he can handle it and be able to come back the next day and play as well. Then we’ll have a better understanding of where he’s going to be at.”

After they went nearly the first month without an injury, the White Sox have been hit hard. Lawrie, Austin Jackson, Miguel Gonzalez, Avisail Garcia, Alex Avila, Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam, Matt Davidson, Charlie Tilson and Daniel Webb are currently all on the DL. The injuries have been costly to an already short-handed squad, particularly in the outfield, bullpen and behind the plate.

“We’ve had a lot of guys that have gone down,” Ventura said. “That’s just part of playing. You’re seeing part of the depth issue that comes into it. You’re bringing guys up, counting on them to come in and step in and do some stuff.”

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Ventura sees it as an opportunity for younger players to fill in for their injured counterparts. But the injuries have even reached down into some of the replacements like Tilson, Davidson, Webb and catcher Kevan Smith earlier in the year. The White Sox are hopeful Lawrie can return and give them an energy boost.

“That’s good,” Ventura said. “For as many guys as we have hurt, when you have one who gets to go out and start playing again, you’re pretty excited about it. As anxious as he is and as kind of bottled up as he has been not being able to play, it’s nice for him to go out and get a few at-bats and be able to see how it feels.”

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

Major League Baseball released a second voting update for All-Star Game starters and three White Sox players are still in the mix.

The top three spots at each position (and top nine in the outfield) are all that matter for now, with those players advancing to MLB’s new Starters Election. James McCann is the only member of the White Sox to sit in one of those spots for now.

McCann is second at catcher behind Gary Sanchez of the Yankees. He is nearly 800,000 votes behind the Yankees backstop.

Jose Abreu was in third in the last update at first base, but has fallen behind Carlos Santana of the Indians. Luke Volt, another Yankee, leads with C.J. Cron of the Twins in second. Santana is just under 43,000 votes ahead of Abreu.

Tim Anderson is still in fourth at shortstop. Jorge Polanco of the Twins and Carlos Correa of the Astros are comfortably in the top two spots. Gleyber Torres, yet another Yankee, is just over 45,000 votes ahead of Anderson for third.

There aren’t any other White Sox within striking distance of the top three. Yoan Moncada remains in eighth among third basemen.

Polls close Friday at 3 p.m. CT.


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Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement


Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

When Eloy Jiménez returned from the Injured List in late May and rejoined the White Sox lineup, he went on the road to Houston and Minnesota and he struggled to the tune of a .148 batting average and .148 on-base percentage, with four hits (three went over the fence), 11 strikeouts and no walks.

For the season, his slashline was .217/.259/.406 with five walks and 36 strikeouts. He was swinging at 49.8 percent of all the pitches he saw (a bit above the 46.7 percent league average); he was swinging at 38.8 percent of pitches outside the zone (quite a bit above the 30.9 percent league average).

He returned to the comfort of Guaranteed Rate Field on May 27 and took a pair of walks. From that point forward, things started to look a lot better… and the results were in line with that observation.

Eloy Jiménez this season:

  PA AVG OBP SLG BB K Swing % Outside zone swing %
Through May 26 112 ,217 .259 .406 5 36 49.8 38.8
Since May 27 71 .297 .366 .594 7 18 45.9 30.8

Not only has he improved quite a bit, but that 30.8 outside the zone swing percentage is second only to Yonder Alonso’s 29.9 percent mark among White Sox with at least 40 plate appearances since May 27. Jiménez hasn’t been chasing nearly as many bad pitches lately.

Those pitches he has been laying off of have for the most part been the low and away stuff, as indicated by his swing charts below. First, his swing rates before getting hurt and then since he came back from injury.

These charts are from the catcher’s perspective, and from what you can see, he has done a much better job of laying off the low and away pitches. Look at the three zones furthest low and away. There’s a big difference.

Start of the year through May 26:

Since May 27:

Through May 26 he swung at 33.8 percent of pitches (51 of 151)  low and away and out of the zone. Since May 27 he has swung at 14.5 percent of those pitches (10 of 69).

It’s only an 18-game sample, so there will certainly be more adjustments made to combat Jiménez, but I believe we’re watching Eloy begin to mature into the middle of the order force as he was advertised.

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