Yermín appears to announce his retirement

Instagram post lights up social media during White Sox loss to Twins

July 22nd, 2021

CHICAGO -- The White Sox dropped a 7-2 decision to Minnesota on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field, finishing with a series split against the Twins. Their lead in the American League Central was reduced to 8 1/2 games ahead of the Indians.

But in manager Tony La Russa’s postgame Zoom session, only two questions focused on the game at hand. The bulk of the questions directed at La Russa instead centered upon Yermín Mercedes, who appeared to announce his retirement on Instagram in the midst of this White Sox setback.

La Russa had heard about the news just shortly after Tim Anderson grounded into a double play to end the contest.

“Just kind of understand, you get to Triple-A and had a taste of the big leagues, you can get emotional, and I don’t know more than that,” La Russa said. “[I'm] probably going to reach out to him.

“As you probably know, if you are paying attention, several times he said how close we are. He knows I’m a supporter of his. So I’ll reach out to him and see what’s going on. It could be he’s just feeling frustrated. I’ll try to explain to him he’s got a big league future.”

Mercedes scrubbed his Instagram account of all White Sox-related material earlier in the day, while also hinting at potentially walking away from the game. He then posted a message with “It's over” in the photo area after finishing 0-for-2 for Triple-A Charlotte and being removed for pinch-hitter (and fellow catcher) Nate Nolan in the sixth inning. Mercedes thanked his family and his agent in the post, before asking for forgiveness from all those who were offended by “the fruit of my immaturity.”

“ ... I apologize, and thus I walked away from baseball for a while,” Mercedes’ post read when translated to English.

A statement was issued by the White Sox following the post.

“The White Sox are aware of tonight’s Instagram post by Yermín Mercedes, who is currently on the active roster of our Class AAA team in Charlotte, NC. At this point in time, the White Sox have not received any official notification from Yermín concerning his future plans."

There was no bigger surprise to start the season than Mercedes, who earned a spot on Chicago's Opening Day roster when left fielder Eloy Jiménez was sidelined by a ruptured left pectoral tendon. Mercedes ran with the opportunity, starting his career 8-for-8 at the plate as the team’s designated hitter and winning the AL Rookie of the Month for April. 

He slashed .415/.455/.659 through April, with five home runs and 16 RBIs. The White Sox would not be where they are today without Mercedes’ contributions.

“He’s a talented guy. He earned a spot on the roster, then he earned all those at-bats,” La Russa said. “There’s so much video and tape, and they [opposing pitchers] start making adjustments. You have to learn how to adjust back. So, I know the stroke he showed early, and when his head is on the ball and he’s not getting too big, he can make those adjustments and hit in the big leagues.

“I know they are looking as a catcher if he can pick up experience of calling a game. He has really good hands and a very strong arm. He has all the physical talents you want.”

At Target Field on May 17, Mercedes homered off a 3-0 pitch from position player Willians Astudillo with the White Sox holding a 15-4 lead over the Twins in the ninth. That action earned criticism from La Russa, in part for swinging after getting the take sign, although Mercedes’ teammates stood behind him.

From May 18 until June 30, Mercedes struggled, posting a .162/.236/.207 slash line. He was optioned to Charlotte on July 2. Mercedes remained in Charlotte, even after White Sox starting catcher Yasmani Grandal underwent surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left knee, with Seby Zavala getting the callup.

With the Knights, Mercedes has been charged with seven passed balls behind the plate, where he was on Wednesday when Jimmy Lambert allowed seven runs over 3 1/3 innings. But as La Russa mentioned, it might be nothing more than a case of extreme frustration for a player who was riding high in the big leagues earlier in the year. It’s something La Russa has seen before.

“A whole bunch of times,” La Russa said. “You go to Triple-A, even as great of a situation as is in Charlotte, it’s an adjustment. You gotta figure out a way to tough it out.

“I’ve been around a long time and it’s happened more than two handfuls. Everyone is an individual situation. In every case, you get involved and you talk. You always try to build a relationship, just like [the one I have] with him.”