CHICAGO -- Andrew Vaughn will start the final two games of the Cleveland series at Guaranteed Rate Field, according to manager Tony La Russa’s pregame Zoom comments on Tuesday.
“He'll get quite a bit of playing time on that road trip as well,” said La Russa of the White Sox No. 1 prospect and the No. 12 overall, per MLB Pipeline.
But fans seem to be more concerned about Vaughn’s lineup absence as opposed to when he’ll next see the field. Vaughn’s only start in the past five games came Sunday against Royals southpaw Mike Minor, with the left-handed-hitting Nick Williams starting Tuesday and playing left field against Cleveland ace Shane Bieber.
Vaughn, who earned his way on the team out of Spring Training, might have had more at-bats at designated hitter if not for Yermín Mercedes’ torrid start. Vaughn is 2-for-14 in six games, but he also has a .400 on-base percentage with five walks. His polished offensive approach has not been overstated, but La Russa is trying to use Vaughn to give the team the best chance to win.
“I think the way it's supposed to work in the big leagues, unless you're a club that's truly really building for the future, is you earn your spot on the roster, and that's what Andrew did,” La Russa said. “It's just like Dylan Cease did and [Carlos] Rodón did and [Michael] Kopech did. And then you earn your at-bats.
“He's playing tomorrow and Thursday, and the reason is we're not trying to develop him. It's because he's ready to help us, and I think he'll be able to help us. There is a difference right now. He's not like Tim [Anderson] will be on Thursday and these other guys [who] know they're in the lineup. He's got to check the lineup card.”
La Russa considers Vaughn an above-average left fielder, despite him learning the position on the fly, and the skipper praised his extensive pregame work put in to get there.
“It's just running the best lineup that day,” La Russa said. “You factor in, whether it's Nick or if it's Andrew, you've got to get enough at-bats, so you maintain some kind of timing. So that's why you sprinkle them around at times.”
Kopech providing relief
Kopech would have been a starting option Monday to replace Rodón, if not for Kopech throwing 2 1/3 innings on Sunday. Otherwise, Kopech won’t be geared for starting in the immediate future.
“There’s no plan of that because we have five guys that we are really happy with,” White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz said. “He’s also on an innings limit.
“He’s going to go out there and throw two or three innings and be able to get his proper rest and then run him back out there depending on his pitch count. But the plan is not to overdo it with him, so we have him much stronger at the end of the season.”
There’s been nothing but great reports for how Kopech has bounced back from his three scoreless outings.
“I asked him yesterday how did he feel after his last outing and he said, ‘I could throw today if I need to,’ which we are not going to let him,” Katz said. “He’s been bouncing back really well.”
Third to first
• Rodón, who was scratched Monday due to a stomach illness, will start Wednesday night.
• Katz was sporting a Yerminator T-shirt during his Zoom session for Mercedes.
• Reynaldo López, who was scheduled to start against the Cubs in an alternate training site game Tuesday, has been progressing well, per Katz.
“His last outing before he left spring, he was up to 95 [mph], which was great,” Katz said. “He’s been working hard on his lower half as well. All the reports back have been really positive.”
He said it
“I might be 12th on the depth chart right now for power, but no, it’s just working with Frank [Menechino], our hitting coach, quite a bit in Spring Training, trying to clean some stuff up that might have gone away from. Hat’s off to him to be able to kind of get me, no striding full-time now, and really narrowed up quite a bit. It’s given me some freedom.” -- Adam Eaton, who entered Tuesday leading the White Sox with three home runs and 10 RBIs
“The saying is you put the ball in play, you always have a chance of something good happening. In that particular moment, with a tough guy like that, I just wanted to breathe and get a pitch that I could hit.” -- Williams, on his groundout starting the final play of Monday’s walk-off victory