Prior to dropping the rubber match to the lowly Houston Astros, the Chicago White Sox announced a pair of roster moves yesterday. Leadoff man Adam Eaton was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list after recovering from a hamstring issue, while slugger Jose Abreu was shelved due to posterior tibial tendinitis in his left ankle.
Adam Eaton went 1-for-4 in his return to the lineup, and he should provide the spark that has been noticeably missing since his has been out. Unfortunately, the White Sox offense will be hampered for at least the next two weeks while Abreu tries to heal his nagging left ankle. Like the injuries to Eaton and Chris Sale, the White Sox are taking the right approach in being cautious with their future core. Abreu clearly has been bothered by this ankle problem for the past 10 days, so it’s wise to force him to sit and get healthy.
Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko will split first base and designated hitter duties while Abreu is out. The loss of the American League leader in home runs and runs batted in is never a good thing, but at least the White Sox have Konerko to fill in for a few weeks. Abreu is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his left ankle this afternoon to make sure that the injury isn’t more severe than the initial diagnosis showed.
With Abreu being placed on the disabled list, Marcus Semien and Leury Garcia once again dodged a demotion to the minors for another two weeks. Semien has seen his at-bats significantly diminish with the returns of Gordon Beckham and Conor Gillaspie, and I am starting to think that sending him down to get regular playing time is the best option when Abreu comes back.
Sale Close to Return
Chris Sale made a rehab start on Friday for Triple-A Charlotte and the results were encouraging. Sale breezed through his four innings of work, striking out 11 hitters on 68 pitches. Sale will rejoin the White Sox in Kansas City to meet with the coaching staff and team doctors to decide on the next step. The White Sox have three options with Sale. One, Sale could make one more rehab start on Wednesday to build up his pitch count and return early next week. Two, Sale could start Wednesday in Kansas City with a pitch count limit of roughly 90 pitches. Three, Sale could throw a side session in Kansas City tomorrow or Wednesday, and then come off the disabled list this weekend against the New York Yankees. Regardless of what option the White Sox choose, Sale should be making a start in a White Sox uniform within the next week. Sale’s return to the rotation will do the White Sox pitching staff wonders as they have struggled to find consistent starting pitching during Sale’s absence.
While sifting through some of the stats for the White Sox affiliates, a few players that are critical to organization moving forward stood out the most.
Matt Davidson, Third Base, 23 years old
Of course, Matt Davidson was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Addison Reed this winter. Davidson has been labeled as the third baseman of the future, but failed to crack the Opening Day roster with Conor Gillaspie ahead of him on the depth chart. Davidson was sent to Triple-A Charlotte and has really struggled so far this season with a .198 average, four home runs, and 13 RBI. However, Davidson has shown some life during the past ten days while hitting .294 with a homer and five RBI in 34 at-bats. The problem is that Davidson continues to strikeout at an alarming rate with fourteen strikeouts in the past ten days, and a whooping 57 whiffs in 131 at-bats. Although Davidson is starting to string together some hits, he’ll have to cut down his K-rate if he is ever going to have success at the major league level. While Davidson has certainly struggled, it is not time to panic, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was starting to worry a little bit.
Micah Johnson, Second Base, 23 years old
Micah Johnson made some noise this March after a great spring training where he hit .360 with three stolen bases, but he was ultimately sent to Double-A Birmingham to develop his skills. Johnson responded by hitting .329 in 146 at-bats with three homers and 16 RBI. Johnson’s hot start earned him a promotion to Triple-A Charlotte last week and he has batted .296 during his first six games. Johnson could very well be the White Sox second baseman of the future, but he might have a hard time cracking the major league level this season before the rosters expand on September 1st. Either way, we will likely see Johnson at some point this season, and he could be in line to compete for a starting spot next spring.
Erik Johnson, Starting Pitcher, 24 years old
Erik Johnson earned a spot in the starting rotation after showing some promise during five starts last season and a solid spring training this year. Unfortunately, Johnson had a rough April and was ultimately sent down after struggling to find the strike zone. That lack of command (18:15 K:BB ratio) resulted in five inconsistent starts and a 6.46 ERA in 23.2 innings pitched. Since being demoted, Johnson has made four starts and has shown some progress with a 3.38 ERA and a 19:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24 innings pitched. Johnson will have to string together some more solid starts to show that he can be consistent with his delivery, but he should be back with the White Sox this summer.
Courtney Hawkins, Outfielder, 20 years old
Courtney Hawkins immediately became one of the White Sox top prospects after being drafted with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 Draft. Hawkins signed quickly and had a promising start to his professional career in 2012 with a .284 average, eight home runs, and 33 RBI in 59 games between two minor league levels. But, in 2013, Hawkins took a huge step back by hitting just .178 with 19 homers and 62 RBI in 383 at-bats. Hawkins also struck out 160 times and walked just 29 times, leading some people to no longer consider him a top-prospect. However, to the surprise of many, Hawkins has rebounded to have a solid first six weeks to the season with a .272 average, nine homers, and 34 RBI. Hawkins still has 41 strikeouts in 38 games, but that is a much better rate than 160 strikeouts in 103 games. Hawkins still has a long way to go, but at least he has put himself back into the discussion of being part of the White Sox future.