CHICAGO -- Thursday’s pregame media session for White Sox general manager Rick Hahn focused on a topic becoming all too familiar during the 2021 season: a significant injury to a core player from this American League Central-leading squad, with second baseman Nick Madrigal becoming the unfortunate subject in this instance.
“'Rick Hahn will address the media following an injury' is rapidly becoming some of the most depressing words in baseball,” said Hahn in his opening comments.
Madrigal was placed on the 60-day injured list with a proximal tear of his right hamstring. The talented second baseman, hitting .305 with 21 RBIs and 30 runs scored while leading the team with 60 hits, sustained the injury to close out the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 6-2 loss. Madrigal tried to beat out a slow roller to third before he was helped off the field without putting any pressure on his right leg.
According to Hahn, Madrigal will be inactive for a minimum of six weeks. Season-ending surgery and rest and rehabilitation are possible avenues for recovery for the 24-year-old, with a decision to come in the next week.
“Again, it’s not clear-cut that it’s surgical,” said Hahn of Madrigal. “Not to get too technical, but there are three tendons that attach to the hamstring at the top. If all of them are torn, then it’s obviously surgical. Nick has one of the three fully torn and a partial on the other.
“So they are debating what the best road forward is. By 'best road forward,' it’s what is in the best interest of Nick Madrigal making a full recovery and returning to being the same player he was on the path to becoming. It’s not about the most expeditious path to getting him back.”
Left fielder Eloy Jiménez has been out of action since the end of Spring Training following surgery to repair a ruptured left pectoral tendon. Center fielder Luis Robert has been gone since May 2 with a right hip flexor tear also sustained while trying to beat out a play at first.
Losing two key components would be tough for even the best of teams to handle, but the White Sox worked through the adversity with a four-game divisional lead over Cleveland entering Thursday. While Madrigal will be missed on and off the field, the White Sox have no choice but to get through this latest difficulty.
“I have no doubt that whoever is going to step into that role is going to step up and contribute in ways we didn’t expect them to or they weren’t expected to at start of the year and we aren’t going to drop a beat,” White Sox closer Liam Hendriks told MLB.com. “At the end of the day, this is where teams show their character.
“This is where teams show their resilience. We dig deep and figure out how to win. If you can’t win now with a bunch of injuries going on, how are you ever going to win in October? If you’ve been through battles before this, then you will be ready for anything when October comes around.”
Outfielder Brian Goodwin was added from Triple-A Charlotte to take Madrigal’s roster spot, giving the White Sox a veteran left-handed bat with the capability to play all three outfield positions. Adding a center fielder such as Goodwin becomes important with Leury García and Danny Mendick figuring to fill the second-base spot in the short term and focus primarily on the infield.
“We have to really stay on top of how much guys are playing, who is sore, who needs a day off,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “You’ve seen García and Mendick play second -- they offer a lot.”
Trades certainly remain a possibility for Hahn and the White Sox, with the team doing its best to maximize its chance to win a championship in 2021 without disrupting its core moving forward. But with the White Sox already having succeeded without Jiménez and Robert, they are confident in pushing forward without Madrigal.
“Absolutely. Never give in, never give up,” La Russa said. “Look at the lineup today, that’s a quality starting lineup. Quality starting pitcher, quality bullpen.
“We’ll have the same in Detroit. Not happy about it. Really more concerned about somebody who enjoys the game so much not playing. Same thing with Eloy and Luis and, to a lesser extent, Michael [Kopech]. It’s harder on them than us.”
They said it
“His contact rate is through the roof. But not only that, he takes good at-bats. There are few times where he is a cheap out, especially when he gets deeper in the count. He’s just a gnat up there. He’s one of those guys where, if I’m warming up and he’s up at the bat, I know I have at least a few pitches.” -- Hendriks, on Madrigal