At the very beginning of the Chicago White Sox current skid, in Houston, Yoán Moncada returned from a sinus infection-induced absence, saying that while he didn't feel 100 percent, the team needed him. And he was right.
It still does badly need Moncada, and fellow middle-of-the-order hitter José Abreu, as that offense-starved stretch has extended a week and a half.
Unfortunately for the White Sox, while Moncada and Abreu aren't in danger of hitting the injured list like so many of their teammates, the duo is dealing with its own maladies.
Moncada was out of the lineup for Tuesday night's game against the division-rival Minnesota Twins, manager Tony La Russa reporting that his third baseman's right shoulder is "barking." La Russa added that this isn't the first time Moncada's been bothered by his shoulder this season, hinting that there was more than just the aftermath of a sinus infection that Moncada's been willing to play through.
"He's had some issues with it," La Russa said, "some already during the first half of the season. He gets treated, he gets exercises.
"Might he play tomorrow? Maybe. But it would be nice to try to get it where he's not sore. But I don't think there's any issue going on the IL."
Meanwhile, Abreu was in Tuesday's lineup, though his presence there comes only after yet another on-field bang-up, this time getting drilled in the left knee with a 97 mile an hour pitch Sunday. That was enough to send him to the ground, writhing in pain for what's getting to be a ridiculous number of times. He's already collided with a base runner while trying to catch a pop up, rolled his ankle on a game-winning slide at home plate and been hit in the leg when the home-plate umpire cleared a bat out of the way.
He's admirably come back from all four of these wild on-field occurrences, but he's also been playing through their effects, enough that La Russa speculated over the weekend that Abreu might be trying to gut out a little too much to be available for the White Sox amid all their injuries.
In what will come as no surprise, Abreu assured his manager he could keep playing. Then, after the hit by pitch, he assessed himself as ready to return Monday, only getting the night off when the game was postponed due to rain.
"Well, it really came down to could he run without limping," La Russa said. "We all went out and watched him, and (White Sox trainer James) Kruk put him through some paces, left, right. And he ran without a limp. So he says he's good to go.
"It's sore, but soreness is one thing and injury's another one. He proved the way he could move, his mobility, because he's going to play first base, he's not going to DH."
That the White Sox are already down Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal, Adam Eaton and Adam Engel makes the presence of Moncada and Abreu in the lineup absolutely crucial. Though to hear they're not themselves, from a health standpoint, will provide solace only in that it helps explain why they haven't looked themselves at the plate. With so much of the lineup missing, what's left is playing through pain, spelling potential doom, at least in the immediate, for what was supposed to be one of the game's most menacing offenses.
During this stretch, which is at 2-7 in the last nine games after a split doubleheader of sorts Sunday, the White Sox have looked in dire need of reinforcements. But what they're truly desperate for is health, whether in the long term, such as the returns of Jiménez and Robert, or in the short term, such as Moncada and Abreu moving out of these literal and figurative sore spots. That right there would be a major boost to this offense.
But in the meantime, the duo is doing all it can just to stay on the field.
Because even without being 100 percent, the team needs them.