Luis Robert hit a towering fly to left field on the second pitch of his sixth-inning at-bat against Cleveland Guardians reliever Nick Sandlin on Tuesday at guaranteed rate field.
Would it be fair or foul?
Robert stood in the box, leaning while hoping it would stay fair for a two-run homer. At the same time, acting manager Miguel Cairo jumped out of the dugout to get a better view of the ball.
It kept curving and landed foul.
The at-bat ended in a strikeout for Robert, who went 0-for-5 in the 10-7, 11-inning loss.
The center fielder, who dealt with left wrist soreness before suffering a bruised left hand, was out of the lineup Wednesday and did not start again Thursday against the Guardians. The Sox lost 4-2, falling seven games behind the Guardians in the American League Central with 12 games remaining.
“He’s still a little sore but he wants to play,” Cairo said before the game. “I said, ‘Let’s see how it feels (Friday) and we’ll go from there.’ ”
Robert has started just six of the team’s 25 games since Aug. 26 because of the bruised left hand, left wrist soreness and a Sept. 2-3 stint on the paternity list.
He exited an Aug. 12 game against the Detroit Tigers with a sprained left wrist after attempting to steal second base in the sixth inning. He returned to the lineup Aug 20.
Robert swung one-handed during a couple of his at-bats Aug. 25 against the Orioles in Baltimore and didn’t make another start until Sept. 5 against the Mariners in Seattle.
The next night, he got hit while swinging at the first pitch of his second-inning at-bat against the Mariners. He continued the at-bat after being evaluated by the training staff and did not swing again, eventually striking out looking.
He took two strikes and a ball in his fifth-inning at-bat, then swung with one hand and missed to strike out in the fifth. He left with the bruised left hand.
Robert is 1-for-28 (.036) since Aug. 25 after slashing .407/.462/.627 in his previous 17 games.
Before Wednesday’s game, Cairo described Robert’s status as “day to day.”
“He feels some pain in there,” Cairo said. “If there’s a good matchup that I can put him into (the game) against some pitchers, I’m going to do it. He’s still valuable everywhere. He can run. (Tuesday) he almost hit a homer too. I was hoping that homer stayed fair. But it is what it is.”
Asked if there was soreness after playing a game, Cairo said, “It is.”
“In the last two at-bats (striking out in the ninth and flying out to right in the 11th on Tuesday), that’s when he started feeling more sore,” Cairo said. “I want to have him in there, for sure, yes. He’s a big piece in our lineup, and I wish he could be healthier.”
When healthy, Robert is an impact bat. He is slashing .284/.319/.426 with 12 homers, 56 RBIs, 54 runs and 11 stolen bases in 97 games.
“Believe me, I want to keep Luis every day in there,” Cairo said. “He’s one of the guys that you say ‘you have a day off tomorrow’ and he says ‘no, no day off.’ It’s hard. I want to have him in there. I want to have (injured shortstop) Tim (Anderson).”
Anderson, who hasn’t played since Aug. 6 when he suffered a sagittal band tear on the middle finger of his left hand, faced teammate Davis Martin for “like 10 pitches” before Thursday’s game.
“I want to have the team we were supposed to be out of spring training and I want to have it together,” Cairo said. “That’s part of the game. You’re going to get some injuries, you’re going to get hurt and you’ve got to deal with that stuff.”
Robert keeps pushing to play.
“Like (Tuesday), I asked him how he was feeling and he said, ‘I feel better,’ ” Cairo said. “He told me, ‘Hey, I want to be there no matter what. I want to help the team, I want to be a part of what we’re doing right now.’ He wants to be there, but I have a tough decision I’ve got to make not to put him in there.
“It will get better with rest, but right now no one wants to rest. He wants to be in there.”