When everyone predicted last month that the Chicago White Sox would run away from the Central American League, general manager Rick Hahn expressed concern about the possibility of a “slightly rocky” start.
“Only the nature of the off-season, the shortened spring, the tight expectations of the schedule at the beginning of the year will create some volatility in the list and probably in performance,” Khan said Monday afternoon. “I didn’t quite anticipate losing eight in a row and then (winning) six in a row. But it’s not a complete shock that we haven’t quite found our sea legs or that this team hasn’t quite found their identity. ”
In fact, this Sox team already had an identity developed during its transition to the post-season in 2021. But only recently have we seen this brazen attitude of “we are against the world”.
A winning streak of six games will do so, and the return on Monday of third man from base John Mancada and relver Joe Kelly from the injured list only added to the team’s splendor.
The Moncada switch may not solve all of their early problems with right-handed punches, and Kelly has to prove he fully returned about 6 and a half months after a right bicep injury to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship series. However, they are the two valuable ingredients of this stew from the White Sox.
On Monday, the Sox returned to summer weather to begin the fight against the Cleveland Guardians and the New York Yankees. Michael Kopech, who has dominated since joining the rotation after a break at the bullpen last season, took the mound against the Guardians in search of his first win.
It makes sense the Sox coped with Kopech in the children’s gloves – 23 innings in the first five starts – despite a brilliant 1.17 ERA. But does manager Tony La Rousse predict that Kopec will throw in the eighth or ninth half this season?
“You are deceiving yourself or someone when you predict what he will get today,” La Rousse said before Monday. “When he’s cruising, he can drop seven or eight if he has quick exits. If not, then maybe half of it.
“We know that this is actually his first (full) year as a starter. It’s a long season and we’re going to be mistaken on the side of caution if we extend it. “
Kopech showed his frustration in the dugout after being removed in the fifth inning of his last start against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, although he later said he understood that the Sox cared about his well-being.
It’s hard to get out when you’re almost unavailable. On Monday in Kopecha’s game, the number of right-handed strikers was limited to 0.114 on average without additional strikes on him.
“I don’t even think he’s achieved anything close to his game‘ A ’yet, and he absolutely dominates the guys,” one of the starters Dylan Sise said on Monday. “If it clicks on all the cylinders, it will be scary.”
Siz, who may be on his way to his first qualifying for the All-Star Game, said Kopec is learning for the first time since 2018 how to become a regular starting point. the 2020 season, shortened by the pandemic.
“He’s obviously already a good pitcher, and he did it for jerks out of the bullpen,” Siz said. “But now it’s the next step to go through the warehouse several times. He absolutely has the material for that. “
It’s been a minute since Kopech and Mancada became the first two prospects that Khan acquired for recovery when he sent Chris Sale’s ace to the Boston Red Sox for the 2016 Winter Meetings. The injuries and absences associated with COVID-19 did not allow both players to meet the early excitement, but it is easy to forget that Mancada has played only four full seasons and Kopecha had only eight career starts in 2022.
If the Promised Land is on the Sox list, both players must be vital cogs on the trip.
The Sox chose Jake Burger in Triple-A Charlotte to open a spot on the Moncada list. Kelly took the place of Aaron Bummer’s Relver, who was placed in the IL back on Saturday with a sprained right knee.
“It’s just a weird thing that happened in Boston,” Bamer said. “I just felt something in the last two fields. We definitely play smart. At this time of year, we are playing it safe and not trying to impose anything, and it will be healthy in the long run. ”
Kelly’s health should be watched as Khan signed a two-year deal with the veteran for $ 17 million with a 2024 option. One day Kelly suffered a back injury while preparing for cancer for his teammates in 2019.
“He was cooking cajun food,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I guess he stood a little longer than he wanted to. That’s what he told me. “
With their endless series of premature injuries, the Sox will hopefully be able to keep Kelly away from the plate in 2022. Give him some takeaway menus from our many great restaurants.
It couldn’t hurt. The Sox have become experts at overcoming obstacles in the last two plus seasons, and their early suffering could be a simple blow in October.
“One of the great things about this game is the long summers, the real talent and the real abilities of the team tend to prevail,” Khan said.
Summer came early Monday, interrupting our miserable Chicago spring.
We can only hope it is long.