Kopech moving into 'next phase' of hamstring recovery

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

There are still no specifics on when the Chicago White Sox expect to get Michael Kopech back from his hamstring injury.

But according to general manager Rick Hahn, the right-hander is progressing as he continues to recover.

"He's going to, in the coming days, resume throwing sidelines, bullpens, and possibly have a sim game here in the near future," Hahn said Thursday. "We want to see how those go first before we decide whether it makes sense for him to go out on a rehab assignment or ... we're able to get enough work done here to be able to just activate him back to the roster.

"So he's making progress, and that's the next phase that he's moving into now."

RELATED: Where Sox go to fill Nick Madrigal's spot at second base

Kopech hasn't pitched since awkwardly falling on the mound during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 26. He hobbled off the field that day, and after he spent a few days on the bereavement list, the team put him on the injured list with a strained hamstring, an injury that's afflicted quite a few White Sox players this season, most recently Nick Madrigal, who could miss the remainder of the campaign.


Kopech's injury has been described as something the team doesn't believe will be of the long-term variety. Of course, everything's relative, and just because he didn't suffer the same fate as Madrigal doesn't mean that the extent of his absence isn't yet noteworthy. He's already been out two weeks, with no return date publicly approximated to this point.

Obviously, the White Sox would like to have him back, as he's been excellent pitching mostly out of the bullpen, but also as a spot starter, this year. Manager Tony La Russa has deployed Kopech as a multi-inning relief weapon in a manner that could foreshadow his usage during postseason play.

But after missing the entirety of the last two seasons, there might be some sort of silver lining to Kopech's current IL stay. He was going to be limited in some fashion this year, the White Sox planning on getting creative so he could be at full strength at season's end. A midseason trip to the injured list is not what anyone would call an ideal execution of those creative plans. But it could allow the White Sox and Kopech to get to same end destination.

"That's a glass-half-full way of looking at it," Hahn said. "You never want to see a guy miss any time due to injury. But when you're talking about a pitcher, if you're talking about a hamstring, which obviously has nothing to do with his long-term arm health, and the opportunity for us to slow him down, his path over the course of the season, perhaps, and reassess where he is in terms of building him up and keeping him strong, then perhaps there is some silver lining to him being on the IL.

"Hopefully we minimize the length of the stay. And once he's fully healthy and we know there won't be any long-term effects from this, we'll ramp him back up and reintegrate him, because he's awfully good and he's an important part of what we're doing here."

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