Nick Madrigal is going on the injured list.
But that being as bad as the news gets would generate a sigh of relief from the White Sox and their fans.
The rookie second baseman separated his shoulder when he slid into third base during the third inning of Tuesday's game in Milwaukee. Madrigal tried to go from first to third on a sharply hit Luis Robert single but was thrown out by former White Sox outfielder Avisaíl García. No one much cared about the outcome of the play, though, when Madrigal popped up clutching his left arm in pain and the replay showed him slamming his arm into the ground on the slide.
But the news from general manager Rick Hahn was relatively positive Wednesday. Madrigal will go on the injured list ahead of Thursday's roster-reduction deadline. The White Sox were required to trim their 30-man group to 28 anyway, and Madrigal will be one of the players removed from the active roster when he goes on the injured list.
Those fearing a repeat of 2018, when Madrigal fractured his wrist sliding into home plate in a college game, seem to be in the clear to breathe easier. Hahn said Madrigal could be back in the White Sox lineup before the calendar turns to September.
"We are optimistic that with some treatment and rehab Nick will be able to return to action for us at some point before the end of this month," Hahn said Wednesday. "However, there is the potential at some point, perhaps in the offseason, that he's going to need a procedure to stabilize the shoulder long term. That's a preliminary estimate.
"Right now he is headed to the 10-day (injured list), but again, we are optimistic he'll be able to rejoin us on the field, active, by the end of this month."
Madrigal's status was of great interest, and it should have been considering he was hurt in just fifth big league game. Watching him exit with a grimace on his face brought back memories of Michael Kopech, who required Tommy John surgery after just his fourth major league start in 2018. He hasn't pitched since and won't until 2021 after electing not to play this season due to personal reasons. Losing another big piece of the White Sox long-term puzzle to a long-term injury would have been a tough blow. Instead, Madrigal could be back relatively soon.
But Madrigal was not the only injured player Hahn needed to discuss Wednesday, nor was he the only injured player from Tuesday night's game. Fortunately for the White Sox, the news on their slew of injuries was all relatively promising. It's true that every game means a lot in this shortened season and being without key cogs for any length of time has the potential to swing the entire season in one direction or the other. But "a couple of weeks" is a heck of a lot better than "a couple of months." And for a team focused on the long-term future as much as the 2020 season, keeping the young team healthy for future runs at a championship is even more important than keeping the current winning streak intact.
On to the rest of the updates.
— Edwin Encarnación will not go on the injured list after he left Tuesday's game early with shoulder soreness suffered while swinging the bat. Hahn reported that Encarnación is suffering from SC joint inflammation and that the designated hitter is day to day.
— Carlos Rodón, who made an early exit from Monday's game, departing after two innings of work with shoulder soreness, is hoped to be able to rejoin the team in a couple of weeks, per Hahn. The preliminary scans on his left shoulder were clean, and he remains on the injured list, where he was placed Tuesday, with shoulder inflammation.
— Tim Anderson, who went on the IL on Saturday after suffering a groin strain in Kansas City, will report to the White Sox alternate training site in Schaumburg on Thursday, where he will have a rehab assignment of sorts. Hahn said the team is optimistic Anderson will be back with the big league club at some point next week when his mandated 10-day stay on the injured list is through.
— Reynaldo López has already been on the injured list for more than a week, sent there after he recorded just two outs in his first start of the season and had to leave that game with shoulder soreness. His rehab, according to Hahn, has been delayed after he dealt with a non-COVID stomach illness that cost him a couple of days of rehab. But he's in Schaumburg, too, on a throwing program, and Hahn said López could be back with the team "at some point in the next few weeks."
Again, that's all relatively good news. Considering how hard the White Sox have been bitten by the injury bug in the early going — though a sixth of the way over, the season is just 11 games old — that all those major pieces of the puzzle escaped injuries that would keep them on the shelf for significantly longer is a better case scenario than certain alternatives, especially as teams around the league seem to be announcing season-ending injuries left and right.
As mentioned, things are different this season. Being on the injured list for the typical 10-day period is the equivalent to missing a month's worth of games in a normal season. But considering what the White Sox have shown so far — that their offense is extraordinarily capable, even at less than full strength, and their bullpen is possibly lights-out and their starting rotation has a couple dependable chuckers — they would seem able to keep experiencing many of the good things they have during this six-game win streak and stay in playoff position while guys heal up.
And if that's where they are come the end of August, when Anderson, Rodón, López and Madrigal could all be back in action, then the White Sox could finally have the roster they thought they'd have this season, making the final month of this dash to October quite interesting.