Jake Burger runs the bases before scoring on a Tim Anderson double earlier this year in Baltimore. | AP Photos
The Sox’ first-round pick in 2017, Burger missed the 2018 and 2019 seasons due to injury, and also battled anxiety and depression.
Jake Burger is earning plaudits for his perseverance, and White Sox manager Tony La Russa added more praise Sunday.
“In getting to know guys, reading about our players, when I saw Jake Burger, and I read about him, I was like ‘Wow. That’s really some terrific obstacles and certainly can’t expect him to be very sharp,’” La Russa said. “Then he comes to camp and you see him come up here and he’s playing like a productive big leaguer and then you are reminded what he went through for the last three years. It’s amazing.”
The Sox’ first-round pick in 2017, Burger missed the 2018 and 2019 seasons due to injury, and also battled anxiety and depression. But Burger was a .322/.368/.596 hitter with 10 homers at Triple-A Charlotte and was called up July 2. Entering Sunday’s game – when he’s hitting sixth and playing third base – Burger is hitting .400 and is a day removed from his first big-league homer.
“I think it says a lot about his talent,” La Russa said. “But I’ve said it before: In this game, you have to be mentally and physically tough, whether you are players or a team. He has that toughness thing that’s a huge asset. I don’t know how he’s doing it with those setbacks.
“He’s hitting sixth today for our game against a really good team, so you know what we think of him.”
Lopez is back
Not too long ago, Reynaldo Lopez was considered part of the Sox’ rotation of the future. Now, he’s trying to contribute in any way he can for the Sox, who recalled him Friday from Charlotte.
“My goal right now is just to help the team to win games,” Lopez said through a translator. “It doesn’t matter what role. Whatever spot they want to use me, I know I have to perform and do the best that I can do. I’m not looking to be a starter or reliever; just looking to help this team in whatever role they need me.”
Optioned to the alternate site on March 22, Lopez had spent the entire season in Charlotte, compiling a 1-6 record and 7.62 ERA. But the Sox still brought him back, and he threw two scoreless innings Friday in his 2021 debut.
“I thought he threw free and easy, the ball came out of his hand really well,” La Russa said. “The gun had him in the upper 90s. I saw two different offspeed pitches. I saw a delivery that he repeated and had command. Very impressed, we were all impressed.”
Lopez is a candidate to start one of the games in Monday’s doubleheader with the Twins. Michael Kopech, if he doesn’t pitch Sunday, is another.
Fresh off his contract extension, Lance Lynn is slated to start one of the games.