CHICAGO -- Center fielder Luis Robert was cleared to begin a Minor League rehab assignment with High-A Winston-Salem on Wednesday, moving an already excellent White Sox squad another step closer to full strength.
Clearance came following Robert’s workout on Monday at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., where Robert has been rehabbing. Robert suffered a torn right hip flexor while beating out an infield grounder during a home loss to Cleveland on May 2, but did not undergo surgery.
“I never experienced an injury as severe as that one,” said Robert, through interpreter Billy Russo, while speaking via Zoom on Monday for the first time since suffering his injury. “My first thought was, ‘Oh, this is really bad. I don’t know if I’m going to come back this season.’ It was pain.
“But luckily it wasn’t as bad as I thought at first, and then when I got the news [that] I will be able to come back this season, I felt much better. … First, I spent a month without walking. Then I started walking little steps.
“Then when I started running, I was afraid because I couldn't run 100 percent and I was afraid: ‘Man, I am going to lose one of my best tools,’” Robert said. “I was concerned in that moment about it, but then my body started reacting in a good way and I started feeling much better. I’ve felt pretty good for the last two weeks.”
Over 25 games this season, Robert is slashing .316/.359/.463 with one home run, eight RBIs and four stolen bases. Robert is a bonafide five-tool talent who won a Gold Glove during his rookie season in 2020.
More trust has grown in his leg getting to full strength during this rehab process. But a cautiously optimistic Robert believes he’ll get the best gauge once game action begins.
“That’s when I’m going to see if the fear is there or not,” Robert said. “Right now, I’m just waiting for that game on Wednesday and see what happens and how it goes. Once I play there, I can tell you how the fear factor is.
“I’m very happy with the process and the results that I’ve been getting. I wasn’t expecting to have this process as fast as it’s gone. That’s the good news. I’m just excited to start the rehab process on Wednesday.”
Eloy Jiménez, who had surgery before the season for a rupture of the left pectoral tendon, is seven games into his rehab assignment and is currently playing with Triple-A Charlotte. Jiménez is 8-for-27 with two homers and three RBIs, and the public debate already has begun as to when he’ll be back with the White Sox.
Jiménez and Robert worked out together in Arizona and have supported each other through this tough time, with Jiménez recently predicting Robert would be back sooner than later. If things go well, the duo could be back in the White Sox starting lineup by the Field of Dreams game against the Yankees on Aug. 12 in Dyersville, Iowa.
“We are very happy and excited. We know we are going to be back soon,” Robert said. “We talk every day. We talk about the things we want to do once we come back and how important it’s going to be for the team. It’s going to be fun. We are excited to come back and play here and help the team.
“Having him here was a big, big factor for our confidence. We did all the work together. We eat together. We work out together. We did everything together and we're encouraging each other just to get better, work hard. That was good. That was definitely a plus in this process, just having Eloy with me here.”
After achieving full strength on the rehab front, the next goal for Robert and Jiménez is helping the White Sox win the World Series.
“We've been talking about our goal as a team and our goal as a team is just win the World Series; reach that ring,” Robert said. “That's our goal. We keep talking about it because that's the real motivation for us: Get to the postseason and win it all with the World Series and be champions.”