Luis Robert’s stellar defensive play in center field as a rookie during the 2020 season earned him an American League Gold Glove Award.
So it was unusual to see Robert having trouble tracking a couple of flyballs last week in games against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
In the first inning of July 15, Robert played Carlos Correa’s liner on a hop, and the ball got past him. Correa was credited with a single and advanced to second on Robert’s error.
Robert caught Jose Miranda’s flyball to end the first but then exited the game with lightheadedness. He did not play in the final two games before the All-Star break.
The Sox on Friday placed Robert on the injured list retroactive to Tuesday with blurred vision. They also reinstated Yasmani Grandal from the IL after the catcher missed more than a month with lower back spasms.
Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Robert was more affected in the field than at the plate.
“We have gone through a handful of tests in Minnesota as well as Chicago and at this point, his symptoms have not fully resolved, and as a result we’re going to place him on the IL,” Hahn said Friday before the opener of a four-game series against the Cleveland Guardians at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“That will make him eligible to return (July 29), a week from (Friday) when we’re back home against Oakland. At this time, we are cautiously optimistic that he’ll be able to return at that time. I don’t have all the information exactly on the timeline, but that’s very tentatively what we’re looking at right now.”
Hahn did not want to speculate when asked about a root cause of Robert’s condition.
“All I can tell is you I’m not sitting on any information at this time or keeping from you anything,” he said. “He’s seeing the right people, getting the right tests done.
“Part of the reason he’s going on the IL is it’s more than seven days of inactivity and we need to ramp a guy back up prudently when that occurs. Ideally his symptoms are fully resolved in the coming days, we ramp him back up and he’s back when we start the next homestand.”
Robert has a is slashing .301/.334/.461 with 13 doubles, 12 home runs, 54 RBIs, 48 runs and 11 stolen bases in 74 games. He leads the team in homers, RBIs and stolen bases.
“The most important thing is you’re always concerned because, first of all it’s health and then it’s baseball,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “Keep your fingers crossed and more for him personally than professionally.”
Grandal returned after being out since June 12. He is slashing .185/.294/.237 with three doubles, two home runs, 15 RBIs and 27 walks in 50 games. He appeared in nine rehab games with Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, going 9-for-25 (.360) with two home runs, five RBIs, 13 walks and five runs.
“He looks great,” La Russa said. “Talked to the folks down in Charlotte. They say they were really impressed with his whole game. So we can use his boost.”
The Sox have three catchers on the roster in Grandal, Seby Zavala and Reese McGuire.
“We are thrilled to have (Grandal) back,” Hahn said. “We’ve seen when he’s right what he can do for us both in terms of the offensive presence and the lineup balance he provides, the on-base ability and the power and the work he’s done with our pitching staff over the course of the last couple of seasons.
“We are thrilled to have him back. We are in a really nice situation and we have two other guys in Reese and Seby who have done a really nice job for us. With the doubleheader (Saturday) and off days surrounding (Thursday) and the other side of this series (Monday) and the other side of Colorado (Thursday), it gives us a little time to figure out the equilibrium point for the roster.”
Eloy Jiménez returned to the lineup Friday as the designated hitter after missing the final four games before the break with tightness in his right leg. The left fielder exited a July 13 game after making a running catch.
“It’s possible you see him in the field this weekend,” Hahn said. “Let’s see how things go. Having the All-Star break and guys scatter when they return and we sort of test their strength and mobility and speed give us a sense of where they are at. But until we see it out in games it’s a little bit of guess work. It’s possible he’s in the field over the course of this weekend.
”Coincidentally we go to the largest outfield in all of baseball from here, so I don’t know how much you will see him in Colorado. But he’s certainly progressed to the point where you see him the in lineup (Friday), and I would expect to see him out in the field in the next week or so.”
Reliever Aaron Bummer continues to recover from a left lat strain. The left-hander went on the IL on June 9.
Hahn said Bummer is not throwing from the mound but is playing catch.
“He’s starting to make some progress and we do project to return at some point, but that’s not guaranteed,” Hahn said.
Sox minor-league outfielder Terrell Tatum received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for amphetamines, a stimulant in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Major League Baseball announced.
Tatum, a 16th/-round pick in 2021, has a .267/.405/.415 slash line with three home runs and 21 RBIs in 42 games between Class A Kannapolis (10 games) and Class A Winston-Salem (32 games ).