KANSAS CITY -- Jose Abreu returned to the White Sox lineup Monday for the first time since Aug. 20 after recovering from surgery to relieve pain caused by testicular torsion. The White Sox first baseman called the extended absence bittersweet.
"The toughest part was not being with the team, not being with the guys in the clubhouse or on the field," said Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. "At the same time, I had the opportunity to spend time with my wife and kid. I usually don't have that much time during the season and those 15 days were good."
Abreu needs three homers to become the ninth player in Major League history with at least 25 homers in his first five seasons. He was trying to join Joe DiMaggio and Jose Pujols as the only players to begin their careers with at least five consecutive seasons of 25 or more home runs and 100 or more RBIs, but the medical setback makes that RBI target nearly impossible.
When Abreu first felt the severe pain at home and found out about the surgery, it looked as if his 2018 season had come to a close. So now, he's simply happy to be back in action.
"Everybody knows I was feeling good with my offense before the injury happened," Abreu said. "Now I just want to think about the things I can do on a daily basis. We have 18 or 20 games left, and I want to take advantage of every single game.
"That was another test, another challenge in life. I had to face it. I did, and I feel stronger. I'm just grateful for all the people who helped me through that process, through the recovery and helped me to come back. I'm just glad."
Jones close to a return
Look for Nate Jones to return to the White Sox active roster sometime during this road trip and potentially during this series against the Royals. The right-hander, sidelined since June 12 with a pronator strain, threw one scoreless inning for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem during its playoff contest last Wednesday and then threw live batting practice to a group that included Abreu on Saturday.
The results were positive. And while there was soreness, Jones said it was nothing out of the ordinary.
"It's awesome to get guys in there and get back to the little adrenaline rush facing big league hitters and whatnot. It went well," Jones said. "I threw a lot of strikes with all the pitches. I even mixed some righty-on-righty changeups. I threw strikes, and everything is feeling good. I think we are getting close."
Jones said it was important to come back and help his team over the last few weeks of the season. But it also was important to show the White Sox or another team that he's healthy, back and can pitch.
Covey gets the nod
Dylan Covey returns to the White Sox starting rotation Tuesday night, taking the place of Michael Kopech, who was placed on the 60-day disabled list and figures to have Tommy John surgery to repair a significant tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. Covey has a 4-10 record with a 5.87 ERA over 17 starts this season, but he has a 2.25 ERA over six relief appearances.
Regardless of the role, Covey feels more comfortable in comparison to his 2017 rookie campaign, in which he finished 0-7 with a 7.71 ERA.
"This year it has still been a little bit of a struggle, but last year I was being thrown out there and it was just like trying to take a breath of air," said Covey during a recent interview. "This year I have the stuff, and I have the ability.
"It's just learning for me where I need to throw my stuff and in what situations. So I still feel really confident and really comfortable. I think that I need to do a better job of taking control of just how I attack hitters on the mound."
White Sox manager Rick Renteria indicated Covey would stay in the rotation for the remainder of September, although Hector Santiago also is available for that role.
Third to first
• Advanced Rookie Great Falls will face Grand Junction in the best-of-three Pioneer League championship series. Game 1 is set for Tuesday with a first pitch of 7:40 p.m. CT at Grand Junction. Great Falls will host Game 2 on Thursday at 8 p.m. CT, and a winner-take-all Game 3 on Saturday at 8 p.m. CT. The Voyagers lost to Ogden in the 2017 championship series.
• Matt Davidson, who did not start Monday, is tied with Albert Belle (1998) and Jose Valentin (2003) with eight home runs in a season against the Royals. These three games mark the last '18 matchup between the two.