As expected, two of the Chicago White Sox' most important players are back from their respective stays on the injured list.
As was forecasted last week, the White Sox brought shortstop Tim Anderson and starting pitcher Lucas Giolito off the IL ahead of the start of a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels, which begins Tuesday night on the South Side.
Anderson and Giolito had both been a part of a late-season wave of injuries to key contributors, and while the injuries were not as significant as the ones that knocked Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal out for months at a time earlier in the campaign, they were indeed felt and stoked questions about the team's ability to be ready for the postseason.
The White Sox continue to insist that there will be plenty of time over the next few weeks for Anderson, Giolito and Lance Lynn — who made his own return from the injured list in a Sunday start against the Boston Red Sox — to be ready to go for what the team hopes is a lengthy postseason run, something that would seem near impossible to do without those three key players.
Though manager Tony La Russa said that Anderson and Giolito would return Tuesday, the day brought a bevy of additional roster moves that came as more of a surprise.
Chief among those was left fielder Andrew Vaughn hitting the injured list with lower back inflammation. Vaughn missed all three games of the Red Sox series last weekend, with La Russa describing what ailed the rookie as leg soreness, saying it was significant enough that Vaughn was having difficulty swinging and could not run. The placement is retroactive to Sept. 10.
While Vaughn has struggled of late, he's been a constant presence in the White Sox lineup all season and impressed everyone with what he's been able to do as a rookie, winning fans with a consistent, professional approach at the plate and strong defensive play in left field, where he played regularly for the first time after the springtime injury to Jiménez. Since the return of Jiménez, the two have been splitting time between left field and DH, though Vaughn has flashed plenty of defensive versatility, playing at first base, in right field and even once as a second baseman.
Additionally, the White Sox swapped backup catchers in a surprise move Tuesday, Zack Collins returning from Triple-A Charlotte and Seby Zavala going down to the minors. When Grandal was sidelined with knee surgery in early July, Zavala came up and seemingly leapfrogged Collins on the depth chart, his defensive prowess favored in working with the pitching staff. When Grandal returned from injury and assumed No. 1 catching duties again, Zavala was obviously used less frequently, though allowed Grandal to stay in the lineup and play either first base or serve as the DH.
Zavala had a three-homer game at one point this season, but his strengths come in what he can do behind the plate. He owns just a .183 batting average and .240 on-base percentage in 37 big league games this season. Collins, long thought of as an offense-first backstop despite much improvement coming into this season, hasn't fared much better in his major league time this year, with just a .202 batting average, though a much higher .324 on-base percentage. He came up with just five hits in his 38 trips to the plate at Charlotte.
In one last roster move, the White Sox sent infielder Danny Mendick down to Charlotte to clear room for Anderson and Giolito.