MLB: New York Yankees at Chicago White Sox

South Side Spring Training 5: Oh No, Jake Burger


As you’ll see from the time stamp on this tweet, I made my grand declaration at 2:41 p.m. CT. And then…

Honestly, the turn-around would make Jonah Keri weep.

Jokes aside, Jake Burger’s injury — he crumpled over while booking it to first on a slow grounder and the initial diagnosis is a left Achilles’ tendon injury — is terrible news. We should know the severity of the injury on Tuesday, but assuming the worst, it would mean an entirely lost season for a player the White Sox thought highly enough of to draft No. 11 overall just nine months ago.

Semi-reasonable optimistic take: Burger missed a season, the rehab goes smoothly and he comes back next year, no worse for wear in the power department, and only marginally worse in the departments he wasn’t so good at in the first place (speed, defense). He’s not yet 22 years old and even after losing a season, is still young enough to have a productive career.

That’s not overly far fetched, but it’s also not likely. No matter what you think of Burger (scouts and evaluators are incredibly split on him as a prospect) it’s a major blow to his development.

2. Burger’s unfortunate injury overshadowed a Michael Kopech spring debut that was everything one could hope for.

It’s hard to get too excited about any performance on Feb. 26, but in an abbreviated two innings of work, Kopech seemed to accomplish exactly what he and the White Sox wanted, giving up just one hit (a ringing double by Stephen Piscotty), walking none, and striking out three. His fastball was as advertised, reportedly hitting 101, and he mixed in his secondaries, including a developing changeup that was the focus of the outing.

“The velocity is going to be there for me,’’ Kopech said. “I’m excited about my other stuff right now, throwing my changeup when I can, using my slider as an out pitch. I’m not going to focus on velocity, but it’s always good when it’s there.’’

Kopech’s bread and butter will always be that fastball, but they key to his developing as the White Sox hope will be him commanding the secondary pitches. It was just two innings of a spring training start before the calendar even says March, but a good start is a welcomed sight.

3. Kopech is the consensus No. 2 prospect in the White Sox system. The consensus No. 1 prospect, Eloy Jimenez, has only appeared in one of the White Sox first four Cactus League games. The reason, we found out Monday, is because of a sore left knee he suffered during practice and re-aggravated during his lone appearance in a game.

The White Sox are, as you might expect, taking things slow.

“We’re very, very cautious with him,” Renteria said, adding: “As soon as we get a nice feel for where he’s at and he feels comfortable, we’ll start inserting him into the lineup.”

Getting a glimpse of the uber-prospect’s prodigious power is one of the most-anticipated things of the spring. It’s Feb. 27. (Have I mentioned that it’s very early yet?) The White Sox caution is completely understandable.

4. Last spring, Tyler Saladino hit .365/.431/.692 with four home runs in 56 spring training plate appearances. He followed that up with a disastrous, injury-plagued season in which he was only able to play in 79 games and put up an embarrassing .178/.254/.229 line.

Saladino is once again hitting in Arizona, going 4-for-7 through three games thus far (I know, LOL spring training small sample sizes), including Monday’s game in which he went 2-for-2 with a walk. The numbers to date don’t mean a lick, but it got me wondering where the 28-year-old fits in on this White Sox roster.

Barring any unforeseen roster changes, one would presume Saladino will have a spot on the White Sox bench come Opening Day as a second utility player, backing up Yolmer Sanchez, Tim Anderson, and Yoan Moncada along with Leury Garcia. But while he looked like a reasonable bet to stick around in that type of role two years ago, the back injury that plagued him throughout 2017, as well as his advancing age, puts his future with the team in doubt. One would expect this year to be his last shot.

5. White Sox prospect Mikey Duarte, a 23rd round pick in last June’s draft, spoke to reporters Monday about last October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas that claimed the life of 58 people, including his sister.

As we continue to grieve over yet another mass shooting two week ago at a high school in Parkland, Fla., the voices that have spoken out about the issue of gun control have grown in stature as those voices have turned into the survivors themselves, or those, like Duarte, who were directly affected.

“There’s no reason that a school should be shot up with 17 kids dead,” Duarte said. “A church, 26 people dead. A concert in Las Vegas, 58 dead. It just keeps happening over and over again and it’s not going to stop until our people high up do something about it. And yeah, I think there’s no reason to have a semi-automatic weapon. There’s no reason to have an AR-15. If you need to protect your home, you should be able to have a pistol at your house, to protect someone if they break in your house. There’s no reason to have an AR-15 or a bump stock weapon to kill hundreds of people at a time. There’s no reason. So yeah, I think something needs to be done to help your kids and my kids one day, live in a safer environment.

“People keep tweeting the same stuff over and over again after a mass shooting and nothing’s done. Sorry it happened. Thoughts and prayers to the families that lost someone today.  But what have you done to prevent it? You’re high up, you have every resource to do something about it and nothing is ever done besides a tweet. And what’s a tweet, really? A tweet is just a tweet. That’s just some words coming out of the mouth. I think something needs to be done to make this country safer.”

The entire account is deeply moving, unsettling, troubling, and a whole bunch of other verbs that don’t entirely do it justice. I highly encourage you to check it out for yourself.

Lead Photo Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

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