It would have been easy to miss since the White Sox (53-83) were well on their way to a 10-0 loss to the Tigers at the time, but rookie catcher Korey Lee didn’t make it out of the batter’s box on a third inning pop-up to first.
Sox manager Pedro Grifol did notice, and he benched the rookie catcher. Yasmani Grandal caught the remainder of the game.
“That’s not the type of player I am,” Lee said. “I lost the ball. Couldn’t see where it was. Thought it was right behind me. It ended up being in fair territory.”
Lee gave the same explanation to Grifol during the game. Grifol said he believed him and did not feel the play was representative of the 25-year-old, who was called up 10 days ago. But he benched him all the same.
“That’s not the type of baseball we want to play here,” Grifol said.
Lee’s development has been a clear subject of focus for Grifol, a former catcher himself. But the Sox were having a sloppy night across the diamond that dropped them to a season-worst 30 games below .500. Tigers outfielder Akil Baddoo scoring from first on a single without so much as a throw home from second baseman Lenyn Sosa in the second was merely the highlight among a selection of questionable plays.
Still, Lee’s seemingly honest mistake took center stage postgame.
“I explained my part a little bit,” Lee said. “He’s the manager. He has the final go and I respect that.”
“He’ll be in there tomorrow,” Grifol said.
Less than 15 minutes before the first pitch Saturday night, Luis Robert Jr. was scratched with a cramp in his right quad.
The Sox are having a horrible year even with Robert having an All-Star caliber season on both sides of the ball. Without him, they were shut out on four hits as Tigers rookie Reese Olson cruised through seven innings, and Oscar Colas looked overstretched while filling in at center field.
“We’re always going to err on the side of caution, especially right now,” Grifol said. “He’ll be evaluated [Sunday] morning and if he’s able to play he’ll play, and if not we’ll give him another day.”
Pending free agent Mike Clevinger was concerned enough about being put on waivers ahead of the Sept. 1 deadline for teams to add players to be playoff-eligible, that he spoke to Grifol, assistant general manager Jeremy Haber and pitching coach Ethan Katz about it.
But after going unclaimed by any playoff hopefuls and also after being charged for eight runs in four innings Saturday, Clevinger did not want to pin any extra blame on the distraction.
“I understood even the reasoning behind it, but that wasn’t a factor going into this at all,” Clevinger said. “I’m just worried about trying to put up results.”
Making up for lost time
After top prospect Colson Montgomery missed the first 2½ months with a back strain, the Sox are expected to recoup some at-bats by sending the 21-year-old shortstop to the Arizona Fall League. Montgomery, currently at Double-A Birmingham, is hitting .297/.472/.497 in 50 games across three minor-league levels this season.