HOUSTON — Jake Burger might not end up the Chicago White Sox savior at second base.
But he's giving the position a shot, and the White Sox could use someone to step in for Nick Madrigal as they continue to chase a championship in 2021.
Burger, who after overcoming a series of significant injuries is playing in his first minor league season since 2017, has played second base for Triple-A Charlotte the last few days, which has been of interest since Madrigal went down for the season with a torn hamstring last week.
Burger's done well swinging the bat, with a .277/.320/.555 slash line to go along with eight home runs and 27 RBIs in 34 games. But his regular position of third base is pretty well spoken for, with Yoán Moncada entrenched there for the foreseeable future.
This is not so much a Hail Mary by the White Sox, who despite a more than admirable effort from their reserve unit, could use some reinforcements amid an injury-plagued season. Versatility works in Burger's favor, too. If he can show the team he can handle another position, it increases the likelihood of a promotion. And it could work for the White Sox, who could find an internal solution to their second-base vacancy, if everything works out.
"I think that's what you want to do, you want to make sure that there's different ways that, if he earns a promotion, there's ways to get in the lineup," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Friday. "The obvious thing is, Yoán at third base, the way he's been swinging the bat, there's another option (for Burger), like second base, for example.
"I think it's really smart, and it's smarter if you do it down there where it's not such a microscope, just watching every move you make. ... I like that they're exposing him to second base down there. It makes sense."
The White Sox have already found success shifting a prospect to a new position this season, with Andrew Vaughn faring well filling in for Eloy Jiménez in left field. Similarly, Gavin Sheets has shifted from his spot on the infield to the corner outfield, where the White Sox could also use some reinforcements at the big league level. Sheets is an intriguing candidate to get a chance with the big league squad, currently the owner of a .288/.349/.489 slash line, seven homers and 29 RBIs.
General manager Rick Hahn has vowed an aggressive approach as the trade deadline nears. But intent not to waste a "sacred" chance at winning the World Series, the White Sox will look for improvements everywhere they can. And that could mean right in their own organization.