When Robin Ventura planned on giving Jose Abreu a rest for the opener against Houston after an off day on Thursday, he prepared for a strenuous objection:
‘‘He’s going to fight it, but it’s probably a good time to do that for him,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘Anytime you can get a guy two days . . . he’s still limping around. You look at it and wince, but he is getting better, as much as it might not look like it.’’
Either Ventura wasn't prepared to withstand it, or he was more flexible than he sounded. Ventura started Abreu on both Friday and Saturday, and it definitely didn't look like his ankle had improved. His discomfort made itself quite evident on Saturday -- hopping on his good leg after big swings, and limping back to first after a groundout in his second at-bat. He had to be replaced by Paul Konerko when his spot in the batting order came up for the third time.
Replaced by Paul Konerko because you're moving too poorly is not a great sign— The Catbird Seat (@TheCatbird_Seat) May 17, 2014
The Sun-Times' Steve Greenberg said the unsaid pain extended into the postgame session, too:
HOUSTON — Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen?
Maybe. If it wasn’t 15, it was painfully close.
And you can go ahead and put the emphasis on "painfully."
That’s how long White Sox slugger Jose Abreu sat at his locker in the visitors’ clubhouse Saturday — head buried in his hands — after a game in which he was lifted for Paul Konerko because of the left ankle pain that just won’t quit.
Abreu's surprise start on Friday seemed like a page out of the Jake Peavy playbook -- a sensibly cautious plan disregarded because ... he hit a homer in Oakland or something. Granted, it's not nearly as negligent, because the condition of Abreu's ankle has fluctuated randomly since spring training. It's possible the day of rest would've accomplished nothing, so I think it's easy to overstate the significance of the change of plans.
That said, it could be tricky for Ventura to manage this situation, because he's going by sight for a guy he's barely seen. Abreu has alternated between awful at-bats and extra-base hits at a number of points this season. When is he hurting, versus just off-balance? Maybe the answer is, "When he doesn't crush a ball for two days in a row."
Hopefully Abreu will meet him halfway with his disclosures, because time is on their side at this point in the season. A DL stint could take the call away from both parties, but nobody could accurately gauge the likelihood of that outcome one way or another at this point.
Speaking of DL stints and potentially premature returns: Adam Eaton wasn't in the lineup for Charlotte after getting six at-bats in the doubleheader on Friday. He said he felt "100 percent" during his return to action, and Scott Merkin said there were rumblings that he was in Houston, but the Sox didn't make a roster move after Saturday's game.
Speaking of DL stints and cautious timetables: Ventura said Chris Sale wouldn't be starting for the White Sox on regular rest when his turn comes up, although the course of action remains unclear:
"On Wednesday? No," said Ventura of Sale, who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since April 17 against Boston. "Before you make an exact date, you want to make sure he's doing well. I don't foresee him pitching then.
"He threw enough pitches to where you know he can go pitch in a game. I don't want him to come up here and pitch three innings in a game just to come up here and pitch three innings in a game. If he can extend it a little bit, and he feels like he can get his pitch count up higher to where he can go out and be in a game and it's not going to tax the bullpen to have him up here, you're going to go ahead and take a look at it." [...]
"Once we hear from him and how he's doing, start making a more immediate plan on how we are going to go. A more definite date. But if he's feeling anything at all, then let him do another one and figure out how to go."
White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitis in his left ankle. Adam Eaton off the DL.— Colleen Kane (@ChiTribKane) May 18, 2014