White Sox GM Hahn: Robert out 12-16 weeks with hip injury
Watching Luis Robert being helped off the field Sunday in the White Sox's 5-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field was a painful sight.
The aftermath was even more depressing.
Late Monday afternoon, general manager Rick Hahn said Robert, the Sox's highly skilled center fielder, is going to miss extended time with a right-hip injury.
Robert beat out an infield single in the first inning but hurt himself a few steps before stepping on the bag. He hopped three times on his left leg and crumpled to the ground in obvious discomfort.
"Luis was examined today at Rush Medical Center by lead team physician Nik Verma," Hahn said. "A scan showed a Grade 3 strain of his hip flexor, which represents a complete tear. There's going to need to be further consultation in the coming days with some specialists in the field to determine what precisely will be the next step.
"Those options include surgical repair if in fact the tear had affected the tendon's attachment to the bone, or a rehabilitation process in which natural healing would take place without surgical intervention if in fact the tear is to the muscle as opposed to the attachment between the tendon and the bone.
"Either way, coincidentally, the timeline is the same. Whether there's surgical intervention or rest and rehabilitation, Luis will not resume baseball activities for 12 to 16 weeks."
A torn hip flexor is a devastating injury, especially for a player like Robert who relies so much on speed and flexibility. Hahn said it's much too early to speculate on the long-term implications for the 23-year-old outfielder.
"We won't know a timeline until after whatever the next steps are determined," the White Sox's GM said. "But it's safe to say in terms of projecting his possible return, it's too soon to know and quite frankly we are not going to be able to provide you with an educated projection of that for another 12 weeks or so as we see how he progresses."
The crushing news on Robert comes when the Sox are still trying to overcome the loss of Eloy Jimenez. In a March 25 Cactus League game, the power-hitting left fielder went down with a ruptured left pectoral tendon that has a 5-6 month recovery time.
"Well, it's difficult," Hahn said of losing his top two outfielders to major injuries. "It's obviously very difficult and not at all how any team draws things up. You certainly try to create as many contingencies and protections as you can. There are certain star-caliber players that are more difficult to replace than others."
The Sox never replaced Jimenez, using rookie Andrew Vaughn, Leury Garcia, Billy Hamilton, Jake Lamb, Nick Williams and Luis Gonzalez in left field.
Designated hitter Yermin Mercedes, who was named American League Rookie of the Month on Monday after batting .415/.455/.659 with 5 doubles, 5 home runs and 16 RBI over 22 April games, picked up some of the offense Jimenez would have provided.
Losing Robert for an extended period is likely going to result in Hahn making a trade for an outfielder.
"I do think the performances of Yermin and Andrew have helped mitigate the urgency to replace the vacancy created by Eloy," Hahn said. "The nature of how we're all wired here, there's always this inclination to try to fix it, to solve the problem, to find the right answer outside if you don't feel like you have it internally.
"So that's going to continue to gnaw at all of us who are charged with trying to put the best roster we possibly can out there."
For now, Garcia and Hamilton are the options for the White Sox in center field.
"We're going to start with some of the internal solutions we have here as we continue to evaluate what else potentially could be available to us," Hahn said. "Again, we're still early in the season, it's not exactly the time where you see potentially impactful players changing teams. But that doesn't mean we aren't going to at least explore what is potentially out there and evaluate it."
Adam Engel would have been another candidate to replace Robert -- or Jimenez -- but he is still recovering after straining his right hamstring in late March.
"Adam Engel suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain in spring training," Hahn said. "As we mentioned over the course of his rehabilitation, unfortunately he had a setback. The setback basically put us back to square one in terms of his return. The good news is that at this point he is trending in the right direction and continuing to progress.
"However, we are currently approximately three weeks away from Adam to begin a rehabilitation assignment. That's an approximate timeline."