Consistent health has proved elusive for Adam Engel in 2021.
A hamstring strain suffered during spring training kept Engel sidelined until early June, his return delayed by a setback, and he went on the injured list with the same injury not long after. Monday, he hit the IL once more, and though he's not expected to miss a ton of time with shoulder inflammation — he's also battling a groin issue that forced him out of the Field of Dreams game — it's more time without a key outfield piece for the Chicago White Sox.
"The expectation is that 10 days from now," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Monday, "he'll be active and ready to play."
La Russa said that the combination of Engel's two injuries made him unavailable, and with the South Siders requiring some help in the bullpen, it made sense to bring up two pitchers to better stock the relief corps.
Engel has only played in 33 games this season, and his .248 batting average won't leap off the screen. But he's flashed some power, with seven home runs, and his .844 OPS trails only the sky-high number of the recently returned Eloy Jiménez for the best mark on the team.
He's been especially effective against right-handed pitching, with a .932 OPS and five of his homers against righties.
Thankfully for the White Sox, they're no longer in the dire outfield straits they were earlier this season, when both Jiménez and Luis Robert were in recovery mode from a pair of significant injuries. Andrew Vaughn, too, has stabilized the outfield, able to play both left field and right field well enough for La Russa to continue to send him out there on a regular basis.
But keeping Engel's bat in the lineup — not to mention his well established glove, once far and away the reason he demanded big league playing time prior to his offensive improvements in recent seasons — figures to be good idea, especially against right-handers, as the White Sox continue to chase a championship. So the sooner he returns, the better.
Engel's trip to the IL was part of a blitz of roster moves for the White Sox ahead of Monday's series-opening game against the visiting Oakland Athletics.
Additionally, the White Sox sent relief pitcher Matt Foster back to Triple-A Charlotte and brought up pitchers Ryan Burr and Mike Wright. Zack Burdi, the 2016 first-round draft pick from Downers Grove, was designated for assignment to make room for Wright, who's had a solid season as a starter in Charlotte, on the 40-man roster.