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What's Happening in the AL Central?

The past week has brought some interesting developments in regards to the injury situation of the White Sox, but what else has been happening around the division they call home?

Most interestingly, sidelined White Sox ace Chris Sale dominated in a rehab start Saturday for the AAA Charlotte Knights. The angular lefty struck out eleven Durham Bulls, only allowing two walks and a hit in 4 innings pitched. The latest news indicates that Sale may be doing side work during the upcoming week in advance of returning to the rotation this weekend at U.S. Cellular Field against the visiting Yankees.

Unfortunately, that news is balanced by the loss of slugger Jose Abreu to the 15-day DL, effective May 18. The rookie phenom has been a powerhouse to start his MLB career, and any extended absence would be a blow to the White Sox’ hopes for success. Hopefully this is a short-term rest for his injured left ankle.

The paired transaction on Sunday saw CF Adam Eaton return from his stay on the disabled list due to a strained right hamstring. It would be nice to see the lineup in full force, but the loss of Abreu for a couple weeks means we might see some more at-bats for Paul Konerko. He and Adam Dunn figure to handle some combination of the 1B and DH duties during Abreu’s absence.

The Pale Hose offense will be challenged this week in Kansas City by Jason Vargas (4-1, 3.00 ERA, 1.12 WHIP), fireballing rookie Yordano Ventura (2-3, 2.40, 1.13) and longtime Sox nemesis Jeremy Guthrie (2-3, 4.76, 1.24). The weekend set against the Yankees will bring some less intimidating pitchers, but the Sox are in line to face the Bombers’ impressive Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka (6-0, 2.17, 0.91) for Sunday’s series finale.

White Sox face Yankees this upcoming weekend

Elsewhere in the division, the cellar-dwelling Cleveland Indians are in the midst of a four game losing streak, punctuated by a dreadful weekend series against the Oakland A’s which saw the Tribe outscored 30-6 in three games. Justin Masterson (2-3, 5.06, 1.48), expected by many to build on last year’s successful season in a contract year, was shelled Sunday by the Athletics. The erstwhile ace gave up seven earned runs in 4.1 IP, walking five batters and only striking out one. Terry Francona‘s group looks to rebound this week at home against the Tigers and during a weekend visit to Baltimore.

May 19, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) pitches during the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The surprising Minnesota Twins, sitting at .500 after 42 games, took two out of three games at home from both the Red Sox and Mariners last week. Catcher Kurt Suzuki (.312/.378/.416) has been a nice addition on a one-year deal for only $2.75M. It remains to be seen if he will continue outperforming his career body of work, or if the Twins as a team will continue outplaying their preseason expectations. The Twinkies have a somewhat odd, mid-week, two-game set in San Diego against the Padres, followed by a weekend series at the Giants.

The aforementioned Royals also won both of their three-game series last week, edging the visiting Rockies and Orioles. They host the White Sox for three games before a weekend trip to Anaheim to take on the Angels. The story of the year for the Royals has been success despite their struggling offense, epitomized by DH Billy Butler‘s anemic .240/.294/.305 line with only 1 home run and 7 doubles on the season. Will their pitching continue to carry the load against the Sox?

Lastly, the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers are coming off two very impressive road sweeps of the Orioles and Red Sox. They travel to Cleveland to try to continue the Indians’ losing streak before hosting the Rangers for a four-game weekend set. Perennial MVP-candidate Miguel Cabrera has rebounded from a sluggish start, posting a .375/.408/.703 slash line with 24 runs driven in so far in the month of May. Let’s hope he cools down again before the Tigers come to town in a few weeks.

Tags: Chicago White Sox Chris Sale Jose Abreu

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