Andrew Vaughn had been ignoring Eloy Jiménez’s favorite bit while fielding questions from reporters lined up on the other side of the dugout railing. But now, Vaughn’s serene expression broke, and he turned toward the bat knob Jiménez had thrust in front of his face like a microphone.
“How are you feeling today?” Jiménez asked his fellow outfielder.
“Better today than yesterday, baby.”
“That’s great. We need you,” Jiménez said and patted Vaughn on the back.
Earlier that day, the White Sox placed Vaughn on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Friday, with lower back inflammation. Tuesday’s flurry of roster moves also included reinstating shortstop Tim Anderson and starting pitcher Lucas Giolito from the IL, and placing Ryan Tepera (right index finger laceration) on the IL.
“It’s been a crazy year of injuries,” Vaughn said. “We had guys go down early. Guys are going down midseason. I think a little bit comes from last year, not many games. I didn’t play a single game last year. Next man up. Everybody is filing in and playing good baseball.”
In Vaughn’s case, Jiménez’s reaction to the rookie’s injury highlighted the kind of year he’s put together. Vaughn went from making his MLB debut in April, playing above Single-A for the first time in his career, to becoming a player the White Sox “need” down the stretch.
“In my opinion, it’s just a one-time deal,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said of Vaughn’s injury, before the series opener against the Angels Tuesday. “He’ll be aware of how his back feels and he can do some specialized exercises to stay active.”
Vaughn said he and the White Sox training staff expect this to be a minimum IL stint. Vaughn is eligible to return early next week.
Vaughn started feeling hamstring tightness before his back started bothering him. He learned from the training staff that the two were interconnected – the hamstring issue stemmed from his back.
“It was mid-way through that (Oakland) series, started to feel a little bit,” Vaughn said. “Thought it was something I could stretch out. But I got back off the flight and felt like it locked up and went in and got it looked at.”
Vaughn has been slumping at the plate this month, recording one hit in his past six games. But in the first 100 games of his MLB career, extending into mid-August, Vaughn hit .263, with a .786 OPS.
Jiménez’s evaluation wasn’t just flattery.
“Our team is unbelievable,” Vaughn said. “This clubhouse is so much fun to come to every day and be a part of. We play for each other harder on the field.”