Danny Mendik didn’t curse his luck.
The White Sox infielder’s season ended Thursday with news that he tore his ACL in his right knee, an injury sustained on Wednesday. collision in the outfield with Adam Hasley.
“You know what, that ball was in no man’s land,” Mendik said, using crutches hours before the Sox opened four games against the Baltimore Orioles at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“You’re leaving, you’re trying to be aggressive. There is nothing I will ever take back about it. I am an aggressive player. I know Hasley too. I talked to him about it. I wouldn’t change it. You go after the ball – that’s how it works. Maybe a little misunderstanding, but that’s part of the deal.”
However, the Sox may curse their fate when it comes to keeping players healthy.
In addition to Mendik, outfielder Adam Engel was in the 10-day IL on Thursday. Engel suffered a right hamstring strain in one half after Mendik fell during 9-5 home loss at the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
That same hamstring for Engel cost him his first 58 games last season. He returned on June 6 but departed for a 10 day IL later that month.
This time, he said the injury seemed less serious.
“When I woke up today, I definitely felt pain, but not nearly as much as last year,” he said. “So I’m optimistic that it should be on the shorter side of IL and it shouldn’t take too long to get back healthy, get back there.”
The Sox on Thursday recalled first baseman/outfielder Gavin Sheets from Triple-A Charlotte and opted for a contract with double-infielder Lenin Sosa.
Eloy Jimenez was transferred to 60-day IL and eligible for reinstatement on Thursday. He goes into rehab with Charlotte.
Meanwhile, outfielder Louis Robert was out of Thursday’s game with a leg injury.
“He’s got a problem he’s dealt with before, so we’ll let it settle down,” manager Tony La Russa said. “I expect him to play tomorrow.”
The Sox count lineups daily. They suffered a string of injuries after both Garrett Crochet and Lance Lynn went down during spring training.
The injury bug also affected Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncadu, Liam Hendrix, Yasmani Grandal and Aaron Bummer.
Hitting .289 with 15 RBIs in 31 games, 28-year-old Mendik earned more playing time at La Russa and the respect of Sox fans for his hard work, especially when he filled in for Anderson when the All-Star shortstop was recovering from a deformed right groin.
“It’s a great game in many ways, but most of the time it’s not fair,” La Russa said. “What did he do to earn extra playing time and be so productive.
“Our record, we got through Tim’s absence, and in almost every one of those games, Danny did something or something in the plural.”
Anderson returned from his stay at IL on Monday.
The medic said he doesn’t know what’s going on with the Sox, but “despite all the injuries we’ve had, what we’ve done so far is impressive. The guys will come back and get better, in full force, and we will be dangerous.”
Mendik was optimistic despite the season-ending injury, believing he had enough time to rehab and prepare for the first day of spring training in 2023.
“They gave me a good timeline of when I would eventually have surgery and when I could start doing it until I was full,” said Mendik, who was unsure of his surgery date. “It’s very interesting to look forward to it. I look forward to… being completely healthy and really strong.”
Left-handed hitter Sheets hit .270 with two home runs in nine games with Charlotte after being demoted on June 10. He hit .204 in his first appearance for the Sox this season, regressing from a promising rookie year.
But after Sheets’ tenure with the Knights and working with their hitting coach Chris Johnson, Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino “really felt like Gavin was more of himself,” La Russa said. “Now he’s a veteran, so he’ll get dressed and warm up, he’ll play right.”
Sosa, 22, can play short, second or third, and is one of the Sox’ top prospects. He led the Southern League entering Thursday with a .331 batting average, 85 hits and 48 RBIs, while posting a .933 OPS at Double-A Birmingham.
“He will help out wherever he can, but when you count his year, you have to trust that he will be an everyday player,” La Russa said. “He (played) every day there and he rips the cover off the ball. The fact that he can win back three places in the infield makes it easier.”
The Venezuelan infielder, signed as an international free agent in 2016, will wear number 50. On Thursday, he was not in the starting lineup.
Tribune reporter Paul Sullivan contributed.