Burger goes 2-for-4 in first game with White Sox
Given his glaring lack of activity the last three years, Jake Burger being assigned to Class AAA Charlotte to open the season could have been viewed as a big mistake.
Burger expected to be with the White Sox's top farm club at some point after being drafted on the first round (No. 11 overall) in 2017, but that was before he missed the next two seasons with a ruptured left Achilles tendon and a bruised left heel.
COVID-19 wiped out minor-league baseball last year, so Burger began his comeback in the CarShield Collegiate League in his native St. Louis before reporting to the Sox's alternate training site in Schaumburg.
The 24-year-old prospect had every reason to struggle at Triple-A this season after such a lengthy layoff, but Burger came out swinging and the White Sox took notice.
"He is someone who (director of player development) Chris Getz has spent a fair amount of time over the last several weeks advocating for finding a way for him to get an opportunity in Chicago," Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "He has in the way we all prefer prospects to graduate to the big leagues, he has done so in a way that he basically forced the issue based on his performance."
After hitting .322/.368/.596 with 15 doubles, 10 home runs and 36 RBI in 42 games for Charlotte, Burger joined the White Sox on Friday and was in the starting lineup at third base in place of Yoan Moncada, who is expected to miss at least two more games with a right-hand injury.
"I'm still numb," Burger said. "Obviously, you think maybe there's a possibility, but nothing I really expected. It just kind of came out of nowhere. I'm really happy to be here and excited."
In the Sox's 8-2 win over the Tigers, Burger batted eighth and went 2-for-4. His first major-league hit -- a double -- came in the seventh inning, when he flied to center and Detroit's Daz Cameron lost the ball in the lights.
Burger singled in the ninth.
"I'm so happy for Jake tonight, 2 hits and we get a W," said Andrew Vaughn, who was 2-for-4 with a homer while making a standout diving catch in left field. "Nothing more you can ask for."
As expected, Burger was a little nervous before making his debut. He was flashing a big smile when the first game was in the books.
"It was an incredible experience," he said. "It's something I never dreamed of two years ago. I'm grateful for the opportunity. The nerves, your whole body is numb. It's something I've never experienced before. That was interesting to deal with.
"As the game went on, you kind of get over it and get back in the groove of playing baseball."
Catcher Yasmani Grandal had to leave the game after the fourth inning with "a little something in his calf," according to manager Tony La Russa.
If Grandal's injury is serious, the Sox are likely to add catcher Seby Zavala from Charlotte.