CHICAGO – Injuries helped to get the Chicago White Sox into this mess. Injuries are going to make it tough to rebuild their way out of it.
A disappointing White Sox team that figured to be trading off assets this month is finding it increasingly difficult to do so because of series of broken bones, sore muscles, tweaked tendons and limp ligaments.
The latest potential trade piece to hit the disabled list was Jesse Crain, whose All-Star caliber season was expected to have teams putting general manager Rick Hahn on speed dial.
Crain hit the DL on Wednesday with a shoulder strain in what he described as an identical injury to one he had last season. The problem is that last year that injury took just short of a month to run its course. Whether or not Crain can get back on the mound to prove himself before the deadline remains to be seen, but the timing doesn’t sound right.
Right-hander Jake Peavy, another trade piece that figured to be popular, is already on the disabled list with a non-displaced rib fracture. Peavy has already had a bullpen session and could return after the All-Star break, but will two or three starts be enough to convince a contender he is healthy and worth the risk.
Gavin Floyd, another pitcher who could have fetched a decent price on the trade market, has already been lost for the season after having Tommy John surgery.
But even the players who have managed to stay healthy are not helping the White Sox as they advance toward the deadline. Alex Rios was expected to draw interest after a steady start to the season, but he had just two hits in 24 at-bats over his last six games heading into play Wednesday. Over his last 23 games he was batting just .245. His last home run came June 9.
Manager Robin Ventura tried to downplay the injury issues.
“Even last year you had moments where you have injuries and you have to fill them,” he said. “You get guys who can come in and fill in until they come back. You make due.”
The White Sox haven’t had to make due like this in over a decade. Before the season started, the White Sox had used 4,026 DL days since 2002. The next best American League team was the Tampa Bay Rays, who had used the DL 7,929 days.
This season, in addition to Crain, Peavy and Floyd, the disabled list has also been used this year for Gordon Beckham, Paul Konerko, Dayan Viciedo, Dewayne Wise, John Danks and Leyson Septimo.
Crain has shown a pattern of injury which could be a red flag for potential suitors. Not only has he dealt with a shoulder strain in each of the last two seasons, he had a muscle strain in his leg this spring that prevented his participation in the World Baseball Classic for Team Canada. He also had a strained oblique that cost him time last year.
“If there’s anything that can go wrong this year for the White Sox it has gone wrong and it just keeps on happening,” Crain said. “That’s just the way some years go. Sometimes years work out perfectly, without very many injuries. Last year we were lucky, we didn’t have too many and this year has obviously been the opposite.
“That’s why you have depth, that’s why you have the minor leagues. You bring up guys, give guys opportunities and see what happens.”
Finding the right trade partner isn’t so easy. In the case of Peavy, and even Rios, there is still the opportunity of getting players through trade waivers and moving them in August. The White Sox are expected to explore all avenues.
“Obviously with me and Paulie going on the DL on the same day, on top of everything that has happened this year, it’s obviously not what we’re hoping for,” Crain said. “But that’s the life of a team and you’ve got to keep working through things and deal with the punches as they come.”