Kopech to get Game 2 start; Abreu stuns

May 13th, 2021

CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Tony La Russa announced as his Game 2 starter for Friday’s doubleheader against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Lucas Giolito will start the opener for Chicago.

“The lean is over,” said La Russa, who mentioned earlier in the week that he was leaning toward Kopech starting one of the games. “We got past the first two games [against the Twins]. Today we have Lance [Lynn], and we’ve got a couple of guys unavailable, but we think we have enough pitching.”

Kopech will make his third start this season, and first since April 25 against the Rangers -- when he struck out 10 in 87 pitches over five innings. Over 22 1/3 innings and nine games, Kopech has produced a 1.61 ERA with 35 strikeouts and eight walks.

La Russa will practice what he calls “observational analytics” in regard to how long the right-hander stays on the mound Friday.

“You watch his delivery, the way it’s been where the ball is coming out nice,” La Russa said. “Then you can go with whatever you figure the conditioning is, and maybe even a little farther. If he’s a little out of whack, you cut it off sooner.

“He’s conditioned to get us into the second part of the game. We’ll see how it all comes out for him. But he had a real nice bullpen [session] the other day, where he stretched out and gained a little stamina. It will be fun to watch him. It always is.”

Abreu getting truly defensive
has gone from being somewhat of a liability at first base four years ago to becoming a Gold Glove-caliber player defensively.

“He’s definitely a Gold Glover,” La Russa said.

Abreu made four top-notch defensive plays at first base in Wednesday’s 13-8 victory, including an over-the-shoulder running catch to rob a hit from Miguel Sanó in the sixth. He also stopped a run from scoring in the seventh by turning a 3-6 double play, where he stepped on first to start the action on Jorge Polanco’s ground ball hit to him.

“He’s got a real instinct for what the score is and what the play is to be made,” La Russa said. “Not just take the out. I look at him and see the work ethic, but you can work hard and go in the game and fall asleep.

“It’s just the way he takes the work ethic into the game. He plays the scoreboard, which is one of the classic things that a winning player is taught. He’s a beautiful guy in every way."

Abreu's three RBIs Wednesday made him the 11th player in franchise history to reach 700 RBIs, and one of just five White Sox to hit 200-plus home runs while also producing 700-plus RBIs. Abreu also joined Rafael Palmeiro, José Canseco, Tony Pérez, Tony Oliva and Kendrys Morales as the only Cuban-born players in baseball history with 200-plus homers and 700-plus RBIs. Thursday marked his 996th game played for the White Sox.

Burger on a roll
had homered in three straight games for Triple-A Charlotte entering Thursday, while also scoring a run in all five games played and picking up six RBIs in his last three. The great comeback story for the White Sox No. 14 prospect, fighting his way through a pair of left Achilles tendon ruptures, has now turned into pure on-field results.

“He is right now, in 2021, a legitimate prospect,” said La Russa of Burger. “He’s a Major Leaguer on the come [up].”

“I'm happy as hell for Burger to get out there and just play every day,” White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino said. “No expectations. Go out there, enjoy yourself and play. Let your talent shine.”

Third to first
• The White Sox plus-64 run differential represents their fourth largest through 34 games in franchise history. Their largest through 35 is plus-71 in 1912.

• Wednesday’s victory against Twins starter J.A. Happ improved the White Sox to 22-1 when facing left-handed starters over the last two seasons. They were 14-0 in 2020 and won 17 straight against left-handed starters, becoming the second-longest streak in Major League history (2004-05 Braves at 18), before losing a game started by Mike Minor to the Royals on April 11.

They Said It
“The only statement that we focus on is that we don't play the bottom of the ninth today. That's our statement. Don't play the bottom of the ninth, and we've had a good day. If we do play the bottom of the ninth, it's not so good a day.”
-- La Russa on keeping the day-to-day focus.