Luis Robert won't make this weekend's Crosstown series an even bigger deal.
But the Chicago White Sox center fielder, currently on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte, is close to returning from his lengthy recovery after tearing his hip flexor in early May.
"This weekend is an important test for him," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Thursday. "(His return), obviously, is not going to be against the Cubs. But I think he's getting close, based on all the reports, which means, (we'll) watch closely how he plays today and over the weekend and probably by Sunday make a judgement about what’s next.
"It's getting where it's imminent."
So it seems Monday could be the day that Robert makes his return, should all go well over the weekend. That's the start of a three-game series against the division-rival Minnesota Twins in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Whenever his return comes, and it will be soon, Robert figures to give the White Sox even more oomph after the team got Eloy Jiménez back from his injury-induced layoff last week. Catcher Yasmani Grandal, working his way back from knee surgery last month, will give the White Sox three middle-of-the-order hitters they missed when he makes his return, expected before the end of the regular season.
Added to the players Rick Hahn's front office acquired before the trade deadline, including All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, the White Sox figure to get a double whammy of impact reinforcements.
Robert is obviously a game-changer in more ways than one, what Frank Thomas has called a "six-tool player" that can win the White Sox a game with his bat, his glove and his legs. Getting him back would be a huge boost for a White Sox team that has established itself as a contender without its injured stars and could vault to championship-favorite status with them.