White Sox

Manny Banuelos' IL stay sounds like it might be brief, though that only slightly eases White Sox starting-pitching concerns


Manny Banuelos' IL stay sounds like it might be brief, though that only slightly eases White Sox starting-pitching concerns

Over the course of the last 24 hours, the possibility of Manny Banuelos making his next scheduled start against the Houston Astros on Monday night became an impossibility.

The White Sox placed the starting pitcher on the injured list ahead of Friday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. It's Banuelos' 13th career trip to the injured list, a bummer of a note in its own right. But the more pressing issue for the White Sox is who will make that start Monday night.

The team's problem with starting-pitching depth has been well chronicled to this point, hence the mystery. The good news for the White Sox is that both Banuelos and manager Rick Renteria seemed confident that Banuelos' stay on the IL wouldn't be lengthy, Banuelos saying he might miss just one start. And so maybe it's just a bullpen day Monday night, when the White Sox play the first of four games against the best team in the American League.

"Hopefully I can come back soon," Banuelos said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "Obviously, I'll lose my next outing. But probably that's the only one. Right after the game, they performed an MRI on my shoulder, and everything came clean. That gave me the confidence that it's nothing really serious or bad. Right now, I think it's just inflammation. We're working on it."

Renteria refused to elaborate on any options Friday, sticking with his typical approach when a starting-pitching vacancy pops up: The White Sox haven't made a decision yet, but they'll have one by Monday.

The options, though, aren't many, which is why this is of more interest than finding a spot starter normally would be.

It's not going to be Dylan Cease, much to the chagrin of White Sox fans who want the organization's top-ranked healthy pitching prospect up yesterday. Despite a nice start to his season at Triple-A Charlotte, Cease's major league readiness will be determined independently of any needs at the big league level. That's the way things go in the thick of a rebuild and in a season where the major league squad isn't expected to contend for a playoff spot. Why jeopardize Cease's development and production over the course of the next five years for a few more wins this year?

Perhaps the White Sox turn to Ross Detwiler, the 33-year-old they plucked out of independent ball who struck out 10 guys in six one-run innings in his first start for Charlotte on Tuesday night. He's made just one major league appearance since 2016, but at this very second he's looking like a far more preferable choice than the rest of Charlotte's banged-up and roughed-up rotation.

But Banuelos' potentially brief stay on the IL might make a simple bullpen day the most realistic course of action. Only in the event of an elongated stint on the injured list would a more permanent replacement be necessary.

Though they might have dodged a bullet, the White Sox are hardly off the hook, as the idiom train steams down the track. Banuelos' performance has made him an easy target for complaining fans, who quickly tired of him after he put up a 9.15 ERA and allowed nine homers in his five starts. And while the White Sox are hardly ready to pull the plug on a guy they liked enough to trade for him over the offseason, under-performance could blow a hole in the starting staff just as easily, if not as quickly, as an injury could.

Should Banuelos' struggles continue, or should he or another one of the current five-man rotation require a lengthy stay on the IL, where would the White Sox turn? Detwiler seems a possibility after just one start in Triple-A, though his attractiveness could change with one outing that shoots his numbers as high as those of his new rotation-mates in Charlotte.

Carlos Rodon will be sidelined for more than a year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Cease will be here eventually, but not immediately. And so the starting staff's job is to hold on and bridge the gap between Rodon's injury-induced departure and Cease's arrival, because there are few to no options in the minor leagues.

Banuelos' injury came just one day into that timeframe. So, pardon the unintentional pun, but things are not off to a good start.

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Reported promotion of Zack Collins adds another piece to White Sox rebuilding puzzle

Reported promotion of Zack Collins adds another piece to White Sox rebuilding puzzle

The White Sox rebuilding puzzle is getting closer to completion.

Zack Collins is reportedly en route to the major leagues, according to a report from Miami talk-show host Andy Slater. That adds another one of the White Sox highly rated prospects to the growing list of them at the big league level as the franchise’s contention window looks set to open relatively soon.

Collins was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016, selected with the No. 10 pick that year out of the University of Miami. Currently ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the farm system, he’s always been praised for his offensive abilities. Last season at Double-A Birmingham, he finished the year with a .382 on-base percentage and launched 15 homers, also winning the Home Run Derby at the Southern League All-Star Game.

In 48 games with Triple-A Charlotte this season, Collins owns a .258/.382/.497 slash line with nine homers, nine doubles, 38 RBIs and 35 walks.

Collins has been lauded as a big bat, but there have been questions about other parts of his game as he’s risen through the system. From the day he was drafted, there were questions about his defensive ability, leading to speculation that he might one day end up at a position besides catcher. He’s also racked up the strikeouts in the minors, with 396 of them in 322 games over his four minor league seasons.

But the White Sox haven’t wavered in their confidence that Collins can be a big league catcher, and it looks like that’s the position he’ll fill should the White Sox call him up before the start of next week’s Crosstown series with the Cubs. Welington Castillo was removed from Sunday’s loss to the New York Yankees with back tightness. The team said Castillo will be reevaluated on Monday. With this report of Collins’ promotion, it looks like Castillo could be headed to the injured list.

Another top prospect reaching the majors adds another tangible example of rebuilding progress. Fans have been clamoring for the promotions of Dylan Cease and Luis Robert all season long, and while Collins might be a little further down in the rankings than those two, this should still please fans who, even in a season filled with positives, want to see a more rapid advancement toward the rebuild’s ultimate goal.

Collins will perhaps benefit from a lack of pressure, what with James McCann in the midst of a potentially All-Star season as the White Sox primary catcher. The White Sox could perhaps continue to lean on McCann, allowing Collins to ease into the major leagues.

But just like Michael Kopech last August and Eloy Jimenez in March, Collins’ mere arrival is a step forward in this process, one that should please fans immensely.

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Yoan Moncada continues battle with back issues


Yoan Moncada continues battle with back issues

Yoan Moncada's battle with his back issues might not be as over as we thought.

The third baseman made his return to the White Sox starting lineup Sunday following a four-game layoff due to a mild back strain. But his return didn't last long. After a fourth-inning strikeout in his second plate appearance of the 10-3 loss to the visiting New York Yankees, Moncada was removed from the game with what the team announced as upper back tightness.

Moncada is described as day to day. The White Sox have an off day Monday ahead of the start of a two-game Crosstown series at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.

"He's doing good. I think I'm not the only one who noticed his grimace in the swing. It made no sense to continue to expose him to that," manager Rick Renteria said after Sunday's game. "All indications are he should be ready to go on Tuesday.

"Didn't seem to put him in any predicament. Hopefully it didn't set him back. All indications are that hopefully he'll be back on Tuesday."

Moncada was removed from Monday's game against the Washington Nationals with what was initially described as back spasms. Renteria updated the verbiage to a back strain in the following days. Moncada missed Tuesday's game against the Nationals, went through a Wednesday off day and then missed the first three games of the four-game weekend set with the Yankees. His return lasted all of four innings Sunday before he was taken out again.

"Just watching the swing, watching the finish, which is what I was concerned with, getting through the ball. He's ready to get through the ball, it's just the finish. He's feeling a little something there," Renteria said. "You can't replicate it in any drill work. We've tried to do it. Everything he did was good. All the work he did was good.

"Everything we tried to do to replicate it, it wasn't existent until you get into the game, then you know. That's why I think it was a good — I don't know if you want to call it a test, but it was a test. We wanted to see where he was at. Didn't make any sense to continue to push him. Get him ready and calm it down and get him ready for the series against the North Siders."

Moncada wasn't the only White Sox hitter removed from Sunday's game. Welington Castillo, who was the designated hitter, was taken out with what the team announced as lower back tightness. Renteria confirmed after the game that Castillo's injury came on his swing in the second inning, a line drive off the center-field wall that ended up as only a single. Castillo will be reevaluated during the off day Monday.

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