Down Eloy and TA, Sox hitters must keep stepping up originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The White Sox couldn't afford to lose another key cog in their lineup, not with Eloy Jiménez already slated for a months-long recovery.
But now they've lost another Silver Slugger, Tim Anderson hitting the injured list Wednesday with a hamstring strain.
The good news is that a hamstring strain is not a ruptured pectoral tendon, and the White Sox are confident that Anderson can return to his spot atop their lineup as soon as he's eligible, which would be next Thursday, the finale of a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians to close out the first home stand of the year.
But even nine games without one of the best offensive players in baseball is something that will need to be soldiered through.
The White Sox have done well in getting production to help make up for Jiménez's absence through the first week of the campaign. Yermín Mercedes has grabbed headlines and rewritten the record books with a scalding-hot start to his season. Zack Collins hit a homer Tuesday night. Andrew Vaughn is on the board with his first major league hit.
But the easiest way to make up for Jiménez and Anderson being out is for the team's bigger boppers to keep on bopping. José Abreu has hit two grand slams already this season, gunning for a third straight American League RBI crown with nine of them in his first six games. Luis Robert lifted his own home run out of T-Mobile Park on Tuesday night. Yasmani Grandal drove in three and hit a home run the night before. And while Yoán Moncada has struck out with a frequency that brings to mind his woeful 2018 season, he's been on base twice in each of the last three games.
Continuing to have those guys power this lineup is the best way to navigate through a week and a half without Anderson, as well as the five or six months without Jiménez.
"I think now more than ever, we need to keep doing the little things on the offensive side, move the runner, get the sacrifice when needed, play as a team," Robert said Wednesday through team interpreter Billy Russo. "And I think we need to keep the focus on that, because that’s the way we can keep producing runs."
The White Sox have done a good job of this so far. Entering their game Wednesday afternoon, they had the fourth most runs in baseball, thanks in no small part to 16 runs in two days in Seattle. They had the fifth most hits and the sixth most home runs.
With Anderson going on the shelf for even a short while, in the grand scheme of the baseball schedule, they'll have to keep doing it.
Division games start when the White Sox arrive on the South Side on Thursday. Last year, they thrived against the Kansas City Royals, who were remade this offseason, with less success against the tip-top pitching of the Indians. They'll face those two teams for at least six games without two Silver Sluggers in their lineup.
If the White Sox are going to meet their championship-level goals, they'll need to keep getting what they've been getting: offensive production up and down the lineup that helps make up for what they've lost in two of their best hitters.