José Abreu was briefly back in the lineup at first base for Game 1 of Friday’s split doubleheader with the Royals following a designated hitter appearance Thursday against the Twins. The continuously improving defense for Abreu at the position has turned it from somewhat of just a spot to put the slugger into a flawless fit between the two. The White Sox lost Abreu in the second inning, however, when he collided with the Royals' Hunter Dozier halfway up the first-base line and was forced to exit.
"I think it's a common practice, even with people in uniform, much less fans, to think that first base is where you put the power hitter, just catch the ball when they throw it and make a play here or there,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “The fact is, if you excel at that position, it's a tremendous advantage to your defense. The guys throwing the ball, especially from the left side throwing that direction, [know] the guy's going to pick it. He's a special defender.
“His excellence on defense just inspires confidence in the infield.”
Abreu’s improving defensive play, Yermin Mercedes’ success at the plate and Andrew Vaughn filling in nicely for Eloy Jiménez in left have made it easy to stick each player into the lineup almost every day. The problem that does come as a result, though, is it causes the White Sox to have to create opportunities for Jake Lamb to play.
In his first year with the White Sox, Lamb has had to take a backseat to Chicago’s everyday starters. La Russa plugged him into the starting lineup at first base Thursday with Abreu getting the day at designated hitter, and Lamb rewarded him with a home run in the third inning of Chicago's 4-2 win. La Russa said Friday morning Lamb would also get an opportunity during the club’s split doubleheader Friday.
However, Thursday was Lamb’s first appearance since May 5 and the first game in which he had an at-bat since May 2. La Russa will continue to look for spots to get him on the field, but considering Chicago’s lofty goals in 2021, Lamb figures to be more of a plug-and-play player and a bat off the bench for the White Sox.
“He's probably in the toughest position player spot on our team. [Thursday] when he started, it was a week to 10 days he hadn't started,” La Russa said. “... Getting him playing time is the toughest, and when you do, like he came through with a home run yesterday, it shows you his talent. But it's not fair; a lot of stuff that goes on during the year isn't fair.”
Rodón ready for Saturday start
While everything seemed to be going right for the White Sox as they stormed to the best record in baseball, a bump in the road came in the form of Carlos Rodón’s turn in the rotation being pushed back from Thursday due to hamstring tightness, according to La Russa.
But fret not, Chicago fans; Rodón is set to take the mound on Saturday against the Royals. La Russa said Friday that Rodón is “good to go tomorrow, 100 percent.”
Chicago didn’t seem to think the tightness was serious enough to necessitate a stint on the injured list, and with a few days of extra rest, Rodón will take the bump against Royals lefty Mike Minor on Saturday following Friday’s split doubleheader.
• The White Sox recalled right-hander Alex McRae to serve as the 27th man for Friday’s split doubleheader. McRae pitched one scoreless inning with a strikeout and a walk in his only appearance of the season on May 4 against the Reds. He also appeared in one game with Triple-A Charlotte this year, allowing a run in one third of an inning on May 12.