White Sox give Burger green light to play in local league
If there is one player in the White Sox's organization that needs to be out playing baseball this summer, it's Jake Burger.
A first-round draft pick in 2017 after a prolific collegiate career at Missouri State, Burger missed all of last season with a bruised left heel.
The power-hitting third baseman also missed the entire 2018 season after rupturing his left Achilles tendon not once, but twice.
Burger is not a part of the Sox's taxi squad that is going to be training at Boomers Stadium in Schaumburg beginning Wednesday, but he is going to start playing organized baseball this week.
The St. Louis-area native is staying home, and Burger will be competing in the CarShield Collegiate League that is based in O'Fallon, Mo.
Burger approached the White Sox about playing in the CCL and was given the green light.
"It truly is a local league," said Chris Getz, the Sox's player development director. "Jake will be sleeping in his own bed every night. I couldn't tell you exactly how many teams there are, but it's a smaller league that is organized by people within St. Louis. It's going to be a mix of some pro players, some college players.
"And really, considering (Burger's) situation, we feel like regardless of who he is playing against or who he is playing with, this is something that he'll benefit from. That really is what drove our decision to do that. We're excited for Jake."
Getz said Burger, who had 47 home runs and 179 RBI in 176 games at Missouri State, is finally healthy and ready to play after an incredibly long layoff.
"We've been speaking to Jake a lot here recently," Getz said. "He is in a really, really good place. Physically, there is no hesitation in what he's doing. His lateral movement resembles what he looked like years ago prior to the injury. There are indications that he's in a spot we haven't seen prior to injury.
"His confidence levels are very high. Physically, he checks a lot of boxes. At this point, it's a matter of getting him in game activity so he can get at-bats and react to the ball off the bat and those types of situations. For him to face live pitching and run the bases and just be the baseball player that he is, we feel like that's the best thing for Jake."
Robert on display:
In Tuesday's intrasquad game, White Sox center fielder Luis Robert again showed why his expectation levels are so high this season.
The 22-year-old center fielder effortlessly ran down and caught a Yasmani Grandal line drive and made a pinpoint throw to second base.
Robert also singled, stole second base and scored in the abbreviated scrimmage game.
"He's going to be a really exciting player," said Sox third-base coach Nick Capra. "We've got to get him some experience. You can see what he does when he gets on the bases. He runs really well. His defense has been solid as solid can be. He's exciting and we can't wait to get into a real game situation and let him go and see what he can do."
Capra was the White Sox's acting manager Tuesday. He replaced bench coach Joe McEwing, who was replacing manager Rick Renteria.
McEwing flew home to Pennsylvania for a family medical matter Monday night.
Renteria, who flew home to California late last week for a family funeral, could be back with the Sox Wednesday.