The Chicago White Sox have dealt with some injury issues in spring training and one player, in particular, could be at risk of not being ready for Opening Day.
That being said, Opening Day is two weeks away which makes a recovery time more difficult for him.
Before going down with the injury, the right-handed hitter only appeared in six games (15 at-bats) and had not registered a hit yet.
While his stats in spring training don’t mean a lot long-term, Encarnacion clearly was still shaking off some rust from the offseason, which means he’ll have to find a way to do that with fewer opportunities before Opening Day.
It certainly can be done and manager Rick Renteria said that they expect “to be able to get him quite a few games” before the end of spring training, as detailed in Sanchez’s article.
If Encarnacion were to miss time, he likely would only miss about a week of the regular season as he would look to just get some plate appearances in extended spring training.
There would be an opening in the South Side, at least temporarily, for someone else, though.
Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes had already made strong cases for a spot on the Opening Day roster, with or without Encarnacion, so one or both of them making it and getting playing time could be the result.
As I detailed in an article a few weeks ago, the team would be smart to only use Collins in a spot where they can get him at least semi-regular playing time.
If Encarnacion is unable to be the team’s designated hitter to start the season, that would be the type of opening necessary to accommodate Collins.
The team would be wise to be careful with the 37-year-old Encarnacion to start the season. If he doesn’t look like he’s ready to handle a grueling 162 game schedule on Opening Day, the Chicago White Sox should give him an extra week or two to prepare himself to be a difference-maker.