The White Sox will be without Leury García for the remainder of the regular season.
The team's switch-hitting utility man, who was having a solid season both offensively and defensively, injured his thumb while sliding into first base in Monday night's loss in Detroit. Manager Rick Renteria said Saturday that an MRI revealed a complete severing of the affected ligament. García, who was placed on the 10-day injured list earlier this week but moved to the 45-day injured list Saturday, will require surgery and be out until at least October. That means the only way he'll return this year is if the White Sox reach the postseason.
The loss of García is a tough one for the White Sox if for nothing more than he was doing a good job filling in for his many injured teammates. He played in 16 of the team's first 19 games this season, plugging holes created when Tim Anderson and Nick Madrigal hit the injured list. García's valuable versatility saw him start games at second base and shortstop and in right field in just 16 games of action.
But he provided some offensive highlights in his brief spell of action this season, too. He hit three homers and drove in eight runs, scoring six, and owned a .758 OPS that would have been a career high if he sustained it over the remainder of the shortened regular season.
If García has played his final game of the 2020 season, the White Sox have a decision to make heading into 2021. They hold a club option on his services for next season. They've shown an affinity for the guy who is, believe it or not, the longest tenured player on the team — he made his White Sox debut after a midseason trade in 2013, the year before José Abreu's Rookie of the Year campaign — and he showed why even in a small sample size this year. That option, worth $3.5 million, seems like an affordable one in an offseason where the economics of the game will be extremely abnormal following this most unusual of seasons impacted by the pandemic.
As for what the White Sox will do in the short term, Danny Mendick figures to be the go-to option at second base while Madrigal recovers from the separated shoulder that sent him to the injured list, an injury also sustained while sliding. The team called Cheslor Cuthbert up from its alternate training site in Schaumburg on Saturday. Ryan Goins could also be called on for middle-infield duties.
But the biggest loss over the course of the remainder of the season is a reliable presence to plug in anywhere should further injuries, or simply days off for certain players, occur. García has the ability to play three of the four positions on the infield and all three outfield spots, and it's likely — though Adam Engel is having a very nice season as the team's fourth outfielder — he would have been the first man called upon with any of those spots vacated. Without that option, Renteria will have to dig deeper into his bench in those scenarios.
"I guess we're going to have to figure it out," Renteria said, asked how the White Sox will adjust without the do-it-all García. "We'll have to manage the situation. It's a big loss for us because he was so flexible and capable of doing so much. But it's just one of those things that we're going to have to deal with and continue to move forward."
Though García's stay might end up the lengthiest — he joined injured pitcher Jimmy Lambert on the 45-day injured list — the injury bug continues to chomp away at the White Sox, who have in no way been immune to the vast number of injuries sweeping the game. Madrigal remains on the injured list, as do pitchers Reynaldo López, Carlos Rodón and Aaron Bummer. Anderson and Nomar Mazara have spent time on the IL, too, and Edwin Encarnación sat out for about a week dealing with a day-to-day issue.
Certainly the White Sox are not the only team dealing with a rash of injuries. But if they're going to meet their preseason expectations — and if there's going to be time for García to make a 2020 return — they'll need to overcome a whole lot of absences.