'That's a guy we need': Robert injures hip

May 2nd, 2021

CHICAGO -- No team can completely replace a five-tool talent such as .

That point should be made clear before any further discussion ensues concerning the White Sox Gold Glove center fielder’s right hip flexor strain suffered in the first inning of a 5-0 loss to the Indians Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field. Robert endured the injury while legging out an infield single and eventually was helped off the field by first-base coach Daryl Boston and head athletic trainer James Kruk.

But the White Sox (15-12) will have to get through Robert’s absence, which initially will involve a trip to the 10-day injured list, per postgame comments made by manager Tony La Russa. It’s a team already adjusting to present life without left fielder Eloy Jiménez, who is out 5-6 months following surgery to repair a right ruptured pectoral tendon.

La Russa realizes the challenge. He also knows each player can’t try to cover for these absences on their own.

“Guys just have to understand, do the best you can,” La Russa said. “You can’t do more. More usually is less.”

“That sucks,” said Lucas Giolito, Sunday’s starting and losing pitcher. “That's a guy we need. I'm just hoping that he can bounce back pretty quick. I don't know much about hip flexors.”

Robert fell to the ground after crossing first base and winced when he tried to get up with the help of Boston and Kruk, causing some in the crowd to audibly gasp. As Robert was carefully helped off the field, one fan yelled out ‘We love you, Luis’ as he went to the dugout.

X-rays were negative on Robert, per the White Sox, and he will be re-evaluated during Monday’s off-day with an MRI to come, per La Russa. The White Sox manager had not talked to Robert postgame, but had discussed the situation with general manager Rick Hahn, adding outfielder Luis González would be brought up in Robert’s absence.

This injury clearly took the air out of the fifth sellout of the season for the White Sox and might have done the same for the team. They stranded the bases loaded in the third and left two on in the fourth inning, but managed just four hits in closing out this nine-game homestand at 6-3.

Robert is 20-for-51 with five doubles, a triple, four RBIs, seven runs scored and seven multi-hit efforts in his last 14 games (hit safely in 12). He has not homered in his last 19 games and 72 at-bats (his only home run came on April 6 at Seattle) but has reached safely in 23 of his 25 games.

Not only is he a dynamic hitter, but Robert anchors the outfield defense featuring Andrew Vaughn learning the position in left.

“That's part of what you're going to go through. All the clubs go through it,” La Russa said. “It's the same thing like with Eloy, it's the same message.

“You're more concerned about the individual and the missed time. And now he's got rehab, though it's not like Eloy. We'll have somebody playing that position and step up, and you've just got to deal with it. We're deep enough to cover."

Adam Engel would be the logical replacement, but the fellow Gold Glove caliber outfielder continues to work his way back from a strained right hamstring suffered near the end of Spring Training. La Russa made it clear on Sunday Engel would not be rushed back.

"We really want him on the roster as soon as possible. … But when he's ready, he's going to play,” La Russa said. “You can't rush him. That would be absolutely criminal. So we're not going to do that.

“Adversity's always going to be part of the season. It's hit us hard in the outfield. But you can't give in. Never give in, never give up. It's just a state of mind. Our minds will be strong."

It’s another unexpected and unfortunate injury-related situation for a very talented White Sox team looking for consistency.

“We're kind of plagued by injury this year,” Giolito said. “That's one of our key guys. Hopefully, he can get it right quick and be back helping us out.

“I feel like with me, it's like flashes of really being on and then kind of figuring it back out. I could say that for a lot of what we're doing. … Overall, we've just got to find our groove and be more consistent and we'll be fine. There's a lot of talent."