Robert highlights return from IL with 448-foot moonshot

June 5th, 2024

CHICAGO -- The journey of this dismal 2024 White Sox season could be illustrated, in part, by the moves made by the organization prior to Tuesday’s 7-6 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The defeat marked a 12th straight setback for the White Sox, tied for the second-longest losing streak in franchise history, and their 16th loss in 17 games.

returned from his injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Charlotte and was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. But as Robert saw his first action since April 5, fellow outfielder Tommy Pham was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left ankle sprain.

“It seems like it’s been happening all year. We’ve just got to keep going. No excuses,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “I know we’re not playing great baseball, our record is not where we want it to be, but the one thing I know for sure is these guys have never had an excuse for not winning games, and I will never have one either.

“Injuries are a part of the game. It tests the resources of an organization, it creates opportunities for guys that might not have the opportunity. There’s a hell of a lot of opportunities here for guys that are here now to become Major Leaguers and to show this industry that they can play at this level.”

Robert was placed on the injured list on April 6 with a right hip flexor strain suffered on April 5 while rounding first base in the ninth inning of a game at Kansas City. The original prognosis for the 2023 All-Star’s absence was longer than the two months he missed, but the two months were still too long for Robert.

Although Robert was slashing .214/.241/.500 with two home runs, two doubles, four RBIs and three runs in seven games this season prior to the injury, he’s one year removed from his first Silver Slugger-worthy campaign when he knocked out 38 homers with 75 extra-base hits and 80 RBIs. Robert won’t play every day at the outset as he gets his legs under him and gets his timing back in big league games.

In Tuesday’s loss, which dropped the White Sox to 5-25 on the road, Robert had two hits, including a Statcast-projected 448-foot home run to put the White Sox ahead, 6-5, in the seventh.

“I laid off the first pitch, just trying to see what he was throwing, and then I was aggressive on the second one and able to hit the ball hard,” Robert said of his homer against Hayden Wesneski, through interpreter Billy Russo. “I finished the game healthy. That’s what’s most important. The other stuff … I’ll take day by day.”

Duke Ellis, the White Sox prospect with 34 stolen bases in 35 attempts in 2024, was added from Double-A Birmingham, while Zach DeLoach (Chicago's No. 29-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline) returned from Charlotte to replace Pham and Dominic Fletcher (left shoulder strain). So it will be a couple of weeks before Robert, Pham and Andrew Benintendi work in the same White Sox outfield, with two-thirds of that crew out of action.

“As I’ve always said, it has been a misfortune for us with injuries,” Robert said. “Every season, we’ve been dealing with injuries to key players. We’ve been trying to get over that, but we haven’t found the answer. It’s something that we have to deal with and keep moving forward.

“When my injury happened, I was doing everything right. I was being very diligent with my preparation and everything, and something happened. You can’t control it. I don’t know how the situation is for the other guys, but in my case, I was doing everything that I was supposed to do.”