MINNEAPOLIS — The injury bug won't let go of the Chicago White Sox.
Another key cog has been yanked out of the lineup, No. 1 catcher Yasmani Grandal out four to six weeks after tearing a tendon in his left knee on a check swing Monday night.
Grandal's batting average is still below .200, but his importance to the White Sox has gone far beyond that one number. He was earning All-Star consideration for a sky-high on-base percentage bolstered by 60 walks, the second highest number in the majors, and a recent power surge that has him at 14 home runs, the second most on the team. Plus, he's handled what has been one of the most effective pitching staffs in the bigs, including arguably the American League's finest starting rotation.
It all adds up to make for another sizable blow to a White Sox team that's still in first place in the AL Central standings despite an outrageous number of injuries.
Grandal joins Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal as starting position players currently in the middle of months-long absences. The team is hopeful that Jiménez and Robert will return by season's end. Madrigal is out for the year. Grandal's timeline puts his return roughly in early-to-mid August, leaving the White Sox without half their starting lineup and several middle-of-the-order bats.
In addition to those significant ailments, the White Sox have also seen Tim Anderson, Michael Kopech, Adam Eaton, Adam Engel, Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall hit the injured list at various points. José Abreu and Yoán Moncada have avoided trips to the IL but have played through a number of bumps and bruises throughout the season, admittedly at less than 100 percent at times.
So it's yet another subtraction for a White Sox team that has not taken its sights off its preseason goals, another major contributor taken out of the equation for a significant amount of time. The White Sox have received positive contributions from the players who have stepped in to substitute for the injured guys. But it's an increasingly heavy burden being placed on the team's depth and reserve unit.
That reserve unit now includes Seby Zavala, who was brought up from Triple-A Charlotte to replace Grandal on the active roster. White Sox manager Tony La Russa mentioned how impressed the team was with Zavala's game-calling during spring training. The club prioritized behind-the-plate attributes to at-the-plate ones in this situation, opting for Zavala instead of the recently sent-down Yermín Mercedes, who served as the White Sox third/emergency catcher during the first three months of the campaign.