The Chicago White Sox were on the wrong side of major league history on Monday when AJ Pollock’s long volley to right-center went from a potential hit to a late-inning and swinging triple play.
Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton caught the wall for the first inning of the seventh inning and returned to the infield. Neither Adam Engel, who started the game at second base and ran to third, nor Yoán Moncada, who started the game first, scored.
Third baseman Gio Urshela scored Moncada between second and third, then took second to complete the first 8-5 triple play in major league history.
At the time, the game was a draw. The Sox then went down 6-3 in 10 innings.
Sox manager Tony La Russa said he watched the footage “about 10 times” later that night.
When asked before Tuesday’s game if the Sox were a good fundamental team, La Russa replied, “We’re a work in progress, but I see progress.
“To be in the position that we’re in,” he added, “if you take every game from the first three months to this one and walk into that clubhouse and guys think about the next day , ready to compete, or you’re watching a game where you’re down for five or six innings, there’s no way I’m going to be negative about this team.
“But you are realistic that we are a work in progress and need to be improved. But as a member of staff, as a manager – unless that’s not true – I’m never going to fail to recognize where their hearts and souls are. If you make a mistake, it’s bad management, bad coaching. We will fix it. That’s why I believe in these guys, and we will improve little by little. Hopefully as soon as possible.
Engel told reporters on Monday that “everyone did the right thing except me.”
La Russa disagreed, saying on Tuesday: “The responsibility starts with the manager.”
He also noted that Buxton made a “remarkable” game.
“It’s a thing that makes you stop because the guy is over there and him and (Sox center fielder Luis) Robert, they’re like twins,” La Russa said.
Describing Tuesday’s actions, Moncada said through an interpreter: “I saw the ball for a little while and then focused on the lead runner because that’s what we do. As soon as I saw it take off, I just chased it. I didn’t see when the central defender caught the ball.
“It’s not worth pointing fingers and who to blame. Everyone wants to do their best and stay focused on the game.”
La Russa said the team focused on grassroots running this spring.
“One of the things that we were able to do during this shortened spring training (because of the lockdown) was basic stress running,” he said. “And (bench coach) Miguel Cairo, who was a really good baserunner, he was responsible for that. (Seeker) Seby (Zavala) had the game (getting tagged going a little too far after going second on a hit on June 27 against the Los Angeles Angels) and he almost had it again (later in the road trip).
“And the day after he got it, we had guys on second base reading balls. So that’s what you do. You make a mistake, you understand it, you work on it and you move on.
La Russa stressed the importance of not suppressing aggression.
“It’s the worst thing you can do,” he said. “I get a lot more upset when a guy doesn’t take the extra base because he’s sitting on his heels. It happens more often, it’s more of a problem. When in doubt, be aggressive.
“But there’s a point where you see, I can’t get the extra base and I quit. You mix aggression and common sense. If you’re afraid of making a mistake, then you lose.
Yasmani Grandal close to rehab, Eloy Jiménez close to return
Wide receiver Yasmani Grandal said he was in line to start a rehab assignment on Wednesday with Double-A Birmingham.
Grandal said he’ll be a designated hitter for the Barons “all weekend long” and then move on to Triple-A Charlotte, where he’ll add wrestling. He said the schedule was to return to the Sox “right at the start of the second half.”
Grandal was on the disabled list retroactive to June 12 with lower back spasms.
Left fielder Eloy Jiménez has been on the IL since April 24 with a torn right hamstring tendon. He was injured trying to bat a pitch to first base against the Twins at Target Field.
He had been in rehab with Charlotte but was back at the Sox clubhouse on Tuesday.
“He looks good,” La Russa said. “He has played enough there (17 games), they say he is ready to leave. We are different when he is around.
Jiménez was not reinstated on Tuesday but La Russa said ‘yes’ when asked if Jiménez would play soon.
“I spoke to (assistant general manager/player development) Chris Getz (Tuesday), and he’s done enough in the minor leagues to play in the outfield,” La Russa said when asked. what frequency Jiménez would play the outfield or DH. “You just go day to day. I don’t know how realistic it is to have him play three days in a row in the outfield. (Wednesday is) a day game, so it can be activated, can play, not sure. I’m worried about (Tuesday).
“At the end of the day, he’s a very important guy for us. So whatever it takes to get him right, he’s a big priority.