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Notes: Edwin on injury; Robert heats up

February 29, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Edwin Encarnación was held out of the lineup again Saturday because of back soreness, but neither he nor the White Sox seem to believe the issue is serious. Encarnación took swings in the batting cage in a controlled setting Saturday morning and reiterated that his absence is

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Edwin Encarnación was held out of the lineup again Saturday because of back soreness, but neither he nor the White Sox seem to believe the issue is serious.

Encarnación took swings in the batting cage in a controlled setting Saturday morning and reiterated that his absence is merely precautionary.

“It’s nothing to worry about,” Encarnación said. “Just want to make sure it is right.

“I want to be ready for Opening Day. That’s the main thing. I don’t want to get something worse and not be ready.”

Encarnación, who has 414 homers in a 15-year career, signed an $11 million contract with a $1 million signing bonus this winter to add another power bat to a lineup that also features José Abreu and Eloy Jiménez. His contract includes a $12 million option for 2021.

“I imagine he is not too far out from being back in there and being able to get used in a game,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “We are thankful for that. He’s feeling good. I don’t think he is feeling any repercussions from the other day. We think he is going to be fine.”

Encarnación played in two games before feeling the tightness that has kept him sidelined since. He said he has not had back issues in the past.

“I don’t know exactly when I [hurt] it,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot of stuff -- swinging, running -- so I don’t know exactly when it was. It was a little tight in my low back, but I feel better now.”

Encarnación would appear to have plenty of time to get his normal spring workload before Opening Day, March 26 against Kansas City.

He had only 33 at-bats in major league spring training games with Seattle last season and has averaged about 43 at-bats in his last three springs, the previous two with Cleveland. He followed with 34, 32 and 38 homers the last three regular seasons, respectively.

“For me, I can be taking 40 ‘ABs,’ no more than that, and we go from there,” Encarnación said.

“This game is hard, man. No matter how many at-bats you take in Spring Training, you never know what is going to happen when Opening Day starts. We have to keep working all year long.”

Encarnación also could get work in “B” games and on the backfields as a way to build up.

“He’s been around the block. He knows how to get himself ready,” Renteria said. “We’ll do anything we can. We do a lot of work on the back fields for both hitters and pitchers. We’ll continue to do those things. We’ll use it with him when need be and any other players.”

Hot Robert
Luis Robert hit his first spring homer in a 7-6 loss to the Texas Rangers on Saturday, a ball that seemed to keep carrying as it cleared the center-field fence in the fourth inning. Robert, who singled and stole second in the second inning, is 4-for-10 with a double, triple and homer in four games.

“He’s a longer-leverage type guy. Timing for him is going to be essential, but he has pretty good bat-to-ball skill,” Renteria said.

“He does seem to make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. There is a little bit of swing-and-miss here in the spring, but I’m not really too concerned about it. When he puts the barrel on the baseball, it pretty much jumps off that bat as well as anybody.”

Robert’s homer came two innings after Jiménez hit his first spring homer, to the opposite field in right-center.

Robert hit 32 homers at three Minor League levels in 2019, capping that with 16 homers in 47 games at Triple-A Charlotte.

New deals
Left-hander Aaron Bummer and infielder Leury García agreed to new contracts Saturday.

Bummer signed a five-year, $16 million deal that will pay him $1 million this season, $2 million in 2021, $2.5 million in 2022, $3.75 million in 2023 and $5.5 million in 2024. The White Sox have $7.25 million options for 2025 and 2026 with $1.25 million buyouts each year.

Garcia signed a $3.25 million contract for 2021. The White Sox hold a $3.5 million option in 2021 with a $250,000 buyout. All players on the 40-man roster are under contract.

Notes
• Yasmani Grandal (calf) could return to action in “maybe three, four days,” Renteria said, and likely would first appear in a “B” game.

“From a physical standpoint, he is doing great,” Renteria said. “We’re just going to make sure we check everything off to make sure once we get him in there, we have done everything humanly possible to make sure we are in a good place.”

• Gio Gonzalez (shoulder) threw a side session Saturday and could get into a game next week, Renteria said.

Up next
Left-hander Ross Detwiler is scheduled to start against the Angels on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Watch live on MLB.TV or listen live with Gameday Audio.