White Sox

If Manny Banuelos misses time, the White Sox seemingly have nowhere to turn

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USA TODAY

If Manny Banuelos misses time, the White Sox seemingly have nowhere to turn

If it seems like you’ve read an awful lot about how the White Sox have no major league ready starting-pitching depth at the moment, it’s because you have. Certainly I’ve written about it plenty. But after Manny Banuelos departed Tuesday’s start against the Cleveland Indians with an injury, here we go again.

The White Sox pushed their depth to the limit when Carlos Rodon went down with the significant elbow injury that necessitated Tommy John surgery, which he’ll have Wednesday. Banuelos had already stepped into a full-time starting role when the team jettisoned Ervin Santana after just three starts, and Dylan Covey got the nod to replace Rodon, who isn’t expected to return to the White Sox rotation until the second half of the 2020 season.

It left no room for injuries, no room for under-performance. And yet that’s what happened to Banuelos. After giving up his third home run of Tuesday’s game — his ninth home run in his last four starts — Banuelos left the mound with the trainer. The word from the White Sox was that Banuelos has a shoulder strain and will be reevaluated Wednesday, a day off before a four-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays.

So right now, we don’t know if Banuelos will miss any time. Maybe he’s back for his next turn in the rotation next Monday in Houston. But if he isn’t? Well, there’s seemingly nowhere for the White Sox to turn to fill his spot on the starting staff.

Twitter-using White Sox fans seem to have a couple answers. They like what Dylan Cease is doing at Triple-A Charlotte, and certainly the White Sox do, too. But much like we heard Rick Hahn say about Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech throughout the 2018 season, the general manager said recently that when Cease makes his major league debut will have nothing to do with a need at the big league level. Don’t expect anything else.

Well, what about Dallas Keuchel? The 2015 AL Cy Young winner is still sitting there on the free-agent market. But any team that signs Keuchel prior to the draft would have to forfeit a draft pick and international signing money, and those two things are way more valuable to a rebuilding team like the White Sox than a few more wins during a 2019 season in which they’re not expected to contend for a playoff spot.

Those wishes are just going to go unanswered. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

The Charlotte rotation, outside of Cease, has produced nothing but ugly numbers so far this season, presenting no appealing options for a front office that might be in need of another starting pitcher. Remove Cease and Covey from the list and everyone who’s started a game for the Knights this season has an ERA north of 5.00. Remove Cease, Covey and Justin Nicolino from the list and everyone who’s started more than one game for the Knights this season has an ERA north of 8.00.

Spencer Adams has an 8.00 ERA, Jordan Guerrero has an 8.31 ERA, Jordan Stephens has a 9.48 ERA, and Donn Roach has a 10.25 ERA. Those are not viable options for much more than a spot start.

There’s Ross Detwiler, a 33-year-old pitcher the White Sox just plucked out of independent ball and added to the Triple-A staff. But the 10-year major league veteran has yet to pitch for the Knights and hasn’t started a big league game since 2016.

Carson Fulmer is pitching at Triple-A, too, but the White Sox have spent a year turning him into a reliever. To throw him back into the starting-pitching fire now would seem counterproductive, to say the least, to his development as a potential bullpen piece of the future.

Hahn has hinted that Double-A might produce a pitcher or two who will get a big league chance in 2019, though he likely wasn’t envisioning those chances coming in May. Kyle Kubat has been pitching real well for Birmingham, as have Jimmy Lambert and Bernardo Flores. Those latter two have been viewed as prospects with potential to help the White Sox in the long term, though, and it’d be odd to see a big league need force their arrival from Double-A if such a situation wouldn’t force Cease up from Triple-A. So perhaps the 26-year-old Kubat is a more realistic option, though who knows how realistic.

All this is a very long-winded way of saying that there are no good internal options to fill a hole in the White Sox rotation.

As for outside additions, Hahn didn't have the rosiest outlook Monday.

“We have had some conversations with other clubs about potential fits,” Hahn said, “but as will come as no surprise to you, there’s not a great market, not a very fluid market for starting pitching right now.

“Initially we’ll look internally and continue to see where those conversations go.”

Those conversations might need to start happening at a more feverish pace if the White Sox are going to find someone capable of logging some innings and getting some outs at the big league level. Because a look at the internal options doesn’t reveal a pretty picture.

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Tim Anderson likely heading to injured list as White Sox await MRI result

Tim Anderson likely heading to injured list as White Sox await MRI result

Tim Anderson's status beyond having an ankle sprain is still unknown as the White Sox await the results of an MRI.

The South Side shortstop sparked fears among fans when he was helped off the field with an ankle injury during Tuesday night's game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Anderson landed awkwardly while throwing on the run on the rain-soaked infield in Boston. He fell to the ground in pain and needed assistance getting off the field, to the dugout and into the clubhouse. He was slated for an MRI early Wednesday in Boston as the White Sox for prepping for the series finale against former mate Chris Sale.

Anderson was reported as being in a walking boot Wednesday. The team announced Tuesday night that X-rays were negative and that he had been diagnosed with an ankle sprain. While the injury could still lead to a long layoff, that was a bit of good news, at least, but his long-term status is still unknown.

Manager Rick Renteria had little in the way of new information when he spoke to reporters Tuesday night and against Wednesday morning, but he acknowledged that Anderson is in all likelihood heading to the injured list.

"He's getting checked out still today," Renteria said. "Probably, in all likelihood, he goes on the injured list. In terms of how long it is, we don't know yet. We know that further examination will give us more information."

In another rebuilding season, losing Anderson for an extended period of time wouldn't figure to be the difference between the White Sox being in a playoff race or not come the end of the regular season. But it certainly wouldn't be good for the long-term future of the team, which has looked capable of starting to open its contention window as soon as the 2020 season, as Anderson would figure to have to spend a significant amount of time working his way back from a significant injury.

As for what Renteria and the White Sox will do in the short term, the manager said he can lean on the versatile Leury Garcia, as well as Jose Rondon, to fill the hole at shortstop. Garcia has been the White Sox everyday center fielder all season long but has the versatility to play on the infield. Rondon has disappointed offensively but could be considered the proverbial "next man up" if Anderson misses any time. Renteria could also mix and match, playing Garcia both in the outfield and on the infield and using other reserves elsewhere. The return of Jon Jay helps the White Sox in this case, too.

"Right now, I'm looking to use Leroy there for a little bit," Renteria told reporters Wednesday in Boston. "Obviously he's very capable of playing shortstop. And quite honestly, might give him a little break. His legs have been barking a little bit, it might help him out a little bit to bring him into the infield. We'll be able to use (Ryan) Cordell and (Charlie Tilson) in the outfield, and then we'll see how we mix in the DH spot for all of these guys, try to give them as many at-bats as possible. That's the adjustment we'll make at the moment."

It's still a scary time for the team and the fan base as all parties await the news on Anderson.

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Tim Anderson helped off field with ankle sprain, will be reevaluated Wednesday

Tim Anderson helped off field with ankle sprain, will be reevaluated Wednesday

White Sox fans saw a sight they hoped they'd never see Tuesday night.

Tim Anderson was helped off the field with an ankle injury in the fifth inning of Tuesday night's game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, hurt while making a play on a ground ball on a wet night in Massachusetts.

The White Sox announced later in the evening that Anderson has a sprained ankle and that X-rays were negative. The team added that Anderson will be reevaluated Wednesday.

Anderson made an on-the-run throw to nab J.D. Martinez at first base, but a play that Anderson has made look fairly routine over the past couple seasons this time included a slip on the rain-soaked infield. The White Sox star shortstop fell to the ground in pain immediately. After having his ankle briefly checked by the trainer, Anderson was helped off the field, into the dugout and into the clubhouse.

The rain poured down on Fenway Park on Tuesday night. The start of the game was delayed a half hour, but the teams played through steady rains throughout, worsening playing conditions, something the White Sox and every team across baseball have had to deal with quite often this season.

The degree of Anderson's ankle sprain is unknown, but the sight of him coming off the field was a nightmarish one for the White Sox and their fans. A sigh of relief came with the team's update, which did not include the words "Achilles" or "tear."

Anderson has emerged as one of the faces of the franchise this season, earning AL Player of the Month honors after a sensational April and earning national attention for flipping his bat after home runs and his mission to make what he calls a "boring" game more fun. He's got a .317/.342/.491 slash line on the season.

Anderson is undoubtedly a core piece for the rebuilding White Sox, who can pen him in as their shortstop of the future as well as the present.

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