Lenyn Sosa was expecting a fast ball.
But when Kansas City Royals starter Jonathan Heasley tossed a curve ball to him going 1-1 in the third inning Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium, Sosa was quick to respond.
The result: a 428-foot homer, the first of his major league career.
The Chicago White Sox recalled the infielder from Triple-A Charlotte on Sunday, and he had two hits in his first action since returning in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, helping the Sox to a win 3-2.
“From the moment they told me I was coming here, I was really focused on doing everything in my power to help this team,” Sosa said through an interpreter after the game. “(Tuesday) was one of those days. That’s what I plan to do – try to help this team as much as possible.
The Sox will need the contributions as they try to navigate the next few weeks without shortstop Tim Anderson. The two-time All-Star went on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with a tear in the sagittal band in the middle finger of his left hand. He will undergo surgery on Thursday and is expected to miss about six weeks.
Sosa played at second base Tuesday and started at shortstop Wednesday against the Royals, going 0-for-4 in the Sox’s 8-3 loss. He also has experience in the minors at third base.
“Of those three positions, my favorite is shortstop,” Sosa said. “I will do my best in any position they ask me to play.”
Sosa’s homer on Tuesday went left center, his single in the fifth went center and he fielded a right in the seventh. Sox manager Tony La Russa said the game served as an example of what made Sosa so successful in the minors.
“The reports we were getting when he was playing in the minor leagues, that’s how he was hitting .300, using all courts,” La Russa said. “Very impressive. Anyone who hits a home run and gets a hit and injects energy into our club, because we’re looking for runs, having them called in a tight spot and producing, it’s is more impressive.
“Anyone who does something like him is going to help our club. I can’t give him enough credit. But that’s exactly how he’s been portrayed by every guy who’s watched him.
Sosa has combined to hit .316/.367/.512 (110-348) with 16 doubles, two triples, 16 home runs, 58 RBIs and 57 runs in 85 games this season with Double-A Birmingham and Charlotte. He played in four games for the Sox from June 23-27, scoring 1 for 12 with a double and two runs.
“For my first experience (in the majors), I learned to be patient here and I learned to execute,” Sosa said. “You can’t let mistakes happen. “You have to be ready to take advantage of every mistake. You can’t let those slots in the middle end up there. You have to do damage.
After playing second in every appearance during his first stint with the Sox, Sosa made his first league start at shortstop on Wednesday. Leury García, who cut .211/.237/.274 in 79 games, started short in both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader. La Russa mentioned that Garcia was suffering from hip and back pain.
“We’ll be watching this closely,” La Russa said ahead of Wednesday’s game. “He was receiving treatment (Wednesday). I think he can play (Thursday) afternoon, but if he’s in pain, I won’t play him. But maybe that means (third baseman Yoán) Moncada has to play four (games).
“So you do stuff (with the programming) in pencil and you just have to watch. But the point is well understood because we are in this long series of games and you have to understand where a guy like Leury is going to have a day (off).
As of 2020, the Sox are 145-106 when Anderson is in the starting lineup and 39-42 when he isn’t. And he often set the tone at the top of the command.
Outfielder AJ Pollock started for the Sox while Anderson served a two-game suspension and remained there for Game 2 of the doubleheader. He fouled a ball with his foot on Tuesday and got a break on Wednesday. La Russa slotted second baseman Josh Harrison into the top spot on Wednesday.
Pollock is hitting .381/.418/.556 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 14 games as the first hitter this season.
“Pollock has been good (and) when he’s not around, Josh has experience and that’s one of the things,” La Russa said when discussing exit options. “(You) look at what other guys can bring. As much potential as (Luis) Robert and (Eloy) Jiménez have (at No. 2 and 3), you really want to have someone who is a threat. Because (the other team will) see Robert on the bridge and say “Whoa, be careful”, and it works to your advantage.
Sosa started in one of his five starts, June 25 against the Baltimore Orioles. He held 9th place the rest of the time.
“It’s not a deer in the headlights,” La Russa said. “He’s had enough success this year, so it’s a good time to try his luck. And the better he does, the more he plays. There is an opportunity here.