The American League Central-leading Chicago White Sox expect to welcome their sparkplug back to the top of the lineup when they open a three-game series at home against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Sunday that the team is set to activate shortstop and leadoff man Tim Anderson from the 10-day injured list on Tuesday as Chicago (82-61) aims for its first division title since 2008.
Anderson hasn’t played since Aug. 28 as he contends with a left hamstring strain that also has been described as general leg soreness. He leads the team with a .302 batting average and 17 stolen bases.
Although the White Sox have remained in control behind capable talent during Anderson’s absence, they stress there’s no substitute for the former AL batting champ.
“He’s as good a shortstop as there is in major league baseball, whether it’s defense or offense, his whole game,” La Russa said. “We’ve been really fortunate. Leury (Garcia) has been outstanding. When Danny (Mendick) plays, he makes all the plays. No disrespect to them. But Tim is one of the best out there.
“When he plays, it helps spark everybody. Now, he’s doing it in the dugout as a cheerleader, but it’s not the same as when he plays. Getting him back will be a big boost for us.”
White Sox outfielder Andrew Vaughn also is working through leg soreness and was not available Saturday or Sunday.
Chicago is coming off Sunday’s walkoff, 2-1 victory against the Boston Red Sox, which ended on Garcia’s solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
“That’s big power,” La Russa said. “What timing. It had to end that way, I think. We had the last hero.”
The Angels (70-73) took three of four from the visiting White Sox in a season-opening series.
Following a string of five victories in six games, Los Angeles has lost five of seven and is teetering on the brink of elimination in the AL wild card race. The Angels were limited to four hits during Sunday’s 3-1 road loss to the Houston Astros, including a solo home run off the bat of Juan Lagares.
Angels manager Joe Maddon expressed optimism about the team’s pitching in the series and overall output against the Astros, who lead the AL West. He sees the White Sox series as another chance for the Angels to test themselves against a team in strong postseason position.
“There’s a lot of good here,” Maddon said. “I like the fight. I like that we’re approaching this properly. We’re not going out and mailing it in at all. I’m seeing exactly the opposite. There’s a team (the Astros) that’s totally in the hunt right now. They are playing for something more than we are, but we played right with them.”
Rookie left-hander Packy Naughton (0-1, 2.57 ERA) is slated to get the call for the Angels as he makes his third start and fifth appearance of his career. Naughton delivered five scoreless innings at San Diego on Sept. 7, scattering two hits, two walks and five strikeouts.
Chicago has not yet named a starting pitcher for the game.
–Field Level Media