Each week, CSNChicago.com takes a look at the injury report from both the Cubs and White Sox, presented by Service King.
Kevan Smith has had a roller coaster of a month, and it's back on the downfall. On Tuesday, Smith returned to Triple-A Charlotte after missing about a month due to a back injury. But after the game, Smith went back on the DL with an undisclosed injury. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run.
Smith was promoted to the main roster on April 24 to replace catcher Alex Avila, who went on the 15-day DL with a sore hamstring. The following day, Smith suffered a sacroiliac joint dysfunction injury during warm-ups without making his MLB debut.
Nate Jones returned to action last week after missing a few games due to a bruised foot caused by a line drive. Jones made three consecutive appearances from May 21-23. In those games, he pitched a combined 1.2 innings and only allowed one hit while striking out three.
Jake Petricka (right hip impingement) and Daniel Webb (right elbow flexor inflammation) are still on the 15-day disabled list. There's no timetable for their returns. On Saturday, manager Robin Ventura said Petricka was still battling soreness in his hip.
The Cubs dodged a serious injury bullet a week ago when Jason Heyward crashed into the wall in San Francisco. The Cubs outfielder wound up missing just three-plus games and returned to the lineup Tuesday against his old team in St. Louis.
Heyward went just 1-for-10 with a walk and two strikeouts in the final two games against the Cardinals, but his re-insertion into the lineup has helped create a butterfly effect with the Cubs lineup. Heyward did make his one hit count — a two-run double in the Cubs' 9-8 victory Wednesday.
The Cubs got more positive outfield news when Matt Szczur was activated from the disabled list Saturday and has looked completely over his hamstring issue.
Szczur has appeared in every game since his return, going 3-for-6 with a triple, two RBI and two runs scored. He his now hitting .389 with a 1.089 OPS on the season.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Robin Ventura changed his mind and Chris Sale will now face the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon.
The White Sox manager announced his decision Friday afternoon, a little less than 24 hours after the club said it would keep its rotation in order following Thursday’s rainout. Rather than face Kansas City, the choice meant that Sale would have been pushed back and faced the New York Mets on Monday instead.
But as Ventura and his coaching staff discussed their options (he had five pages full of potential rotation options on Thursday), ultimately it made the most sense for Sale to face a divisional opponent. Sale is set to face Edinson Volquez in the series finale at 1:15 p.m.
“This is the better play,” Ventura said. “(Sale) didn’t throw very much the other day. We have a division team. A lot of things going into it. Just keep him on schedule and keep him pitching. It’s that simple.
“You play these guys a lot. They’re in your division. You have a chance for (Sale) to still go out there. You look at it with what he did the other day. It made a little more sense to have him go Sunday.”
Sale lost for the first time in 10 starts all season on Tuesday. He threw only 89 pitches against the Cleveland Indians, which has the White Sox comfortable with keeping him on schedule and working on a normal four days of rest instead of needing another.
“He was out of the game quicker than usual last time so we can do it,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “We feel good about Sale against anybody. Division team, that might have had something to do with it.”
The White Sox said Jose Quintana would start Monday against the Mets with Mat Latos on Tuesday and Friday’s starter, Miguel Gonzalez, throwing on Wednesday.
No matter what happens in Friday’s game, Ventura said he likely plans to stick with Carlos Rodon against the Royals on Saturday and Sale on Sunday.
They’ve done it before this season, and White Sox players are confident they can find it once again.
Once off to a 23-10 start, the White Sox have been brought back to Earth by a stretch during which they’ve lost 11 of 15. Still, they don’t feel like they’re far off the mark, and eight losses since May 10 by two or fewer runs would suggest they aren’t. But the White Sox know they have to get back to what worked before, and that hasn’t occurred in a stretch where they’ve lost five consecutive series.
“It just hasn’t been as tight as it was when we were winning, making the plays, coming up with clutch hits, throwing the ball where you want to throw it and getting the result,” veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. “The results have been opposite of what we were like."
The pitching hasn’t been as good in this stretch as it was early. The team has a 4.53 ERA in its past 15 games.
But the offense has been much worse.
A group that averaged 5.6 runs per contest from April 25 to May 9 has averaged 3.8 in its last 15 and only 2.8 over the last dozen. Included in that stretch are nine contests with three or fewer runs, of which the White Sox have won two. In their last 12 games, the White Sox have a .289 team on-base percentage.
“We need to get guys on with less than two outs more, and we need to come through,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “Right now we’re putting a little too much pressure on that instead of just playing our game, maybe a little too much. You’ve got to come back a little bit and understand, take our singles and make the pitcher work. Or, you get on him early, if you get a pitch to hit, we’ve got to do something with it.”
Both Frazier and Rollins said the White Sox merely need to simplify and get back to the basics. Rollins said they need to hit the ball, catch it, execute pitches and score more runs than the other team.
But he knows it isn’t that easy. While it should be, it isn’t.
It’s just that when a team is in a good stretch, there isn’t much to dwell on.
The White Sox have previously shown they’re capable of that state. Now it’s up to them to get back to it.
“When we were doing those things, everything’s going well,” Rollins said. “It’s always like when everything’s going well, everything seems easy. And when they’re not going well, you realize how difficult this game really is.
“We have to find a way to put an end to that. Great series to start that with."
“This game will always give you reminders — ‘Hey, you guys are good, but we’re going to slow you down a little bit.’ You keep at it, it’ll reward.”