Alexei Ramirez left this afternoon's 6-2 victory over the Indians with back stiffness, but he apparently downplayed the severity of it after the game:
Alexei Ramirez said he felt a back spasm before the game. Was bad during his at-bat in 4th. Thinks he will be fine for All-Star Game.— Colleen Kane (@ChiTribKane) July 12, 2014
Even though there's one game remaining in the first half, the White Sox aren't taking chances, as they optioned Andre Rienzo to Charlotte with a position player coming to replace him.
That player seems to be Carlos Sanchez. Down in Charlotte, friend of the podcast Seth Lakso says Sanchez was held from the lineup for tonight's game for emergency purposes, and a source Lakso trusts says Sanchez is at the airport.
It's somewhat unusual to see such a move made with the All-Star break right around the corner, but Adam Eaton is already unavailable, and now Ramirez's injury hits the Sox' thinnest position. If Ramirez is unavailable for Sunday, then Leury Garcia starts and Ventura is left with zero infielders on the bench. Calling up Sanchez allows him to manage an emergency situation professionally, although why not let Paul Konerko achieve his dream of playing shortstop?
If Ramirez bounces back in time for the All-Star Game, Sanchez's promotion could only last one game. Still, Sanchez is worthy of a look, as he's hitting .291/.352/.405 while playing mostly second base with the Knights -- and he just turned 22 two weeks ago.
However, this move could have bigger implications for Rienzo, who Ventura has largely ignored since his move to the bullpen. Rienzo's outing on Friday was his only appearance in any of the last 15 games, even while Ronald Belisario has been stretched for two or three innings at a time over that same period.
It's even more damning since Scott Carroll left his start with back stiffness of his own, which Ventura corrected to a hamstring issue after the game. Even if he doesn't require a DL stint, the Sox could've shuttled him down to Charlotte, and the All-Star break would cover half the waiting period required before calling him back. Maybe Charlotte is the only place where Rienzo can get reps, though. Joel Skinner would probably appreciate having some talent at his disposal after his staff allowed 16 runs on Friday.
The bigger question is who replaces Rienzo's spot after the break. Deunte Heath is in a holding pattern, but it's hard to see how that solves anything.