Veteran out to make way for prospect; Jackson hits DL; Petricka, Webb out for year
By Cody Stavenhagen
CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura took his seat atop the dugout bench, took a breath and tried to explain the feeling that comes with Friday's strange combination of changes.
The latest: Shortstop Tim Anderson, the organization's No. 2 prospect, is up for his Major League debut. Jimmy Rollins, the 2007 National League MVP who was hitting .221 this season, has been designated for assignment.
Austin Jackson, Chicago's starting center fielder, is on the disabled list with a torn left meniscus that will require surgery. He will miss at least six weeks. Outfielder Jason Coats is up from Triple-A Charlotte to fill his void.
Relief pitchers Jake Petricka and Daniel Webb are also officially out for the season, with Petricka scheduled for hip surgery and Webb slated for a Tommy John operation on his right arm.
"You're excited for Timmy," Ventura said. "I think any time a guy gets called up, I think the fanfare and everything else that comes with a high prospect being able to get his shot, you're excited about it. ... Then you look at the other side, a couple guys had surgery today. You get Austin's news. So it's bittersweet in some ways."
Bittersweet is accurate for the White Sox, who bring up Anderson after losing 12 of their past 15 games. Anderson was the club's first-round Draft pick in 2013 and was hitting .304 with 11 stolen bases in 55 games with Triple-A Charlotte.
As Rollins struggled, Anderson's play accelerated the move. Ventura and general manager Rich Hahn both wanted to temper expectations for the highly touted prospect, but they also made the mission clear: Anderson is in Chicago to play. On Friday, he was in the lineup batting ninth and playing shortstop.
"He is not here to be some sort of savior," Hahn said. "We do feel he has the ability to be a special player, but this is still a young player, and still a player who is developing."
Anderson's callup came as most do, with the phone call saying he was going to the big leagues and the ensuing calls to his immediate family. Anderson said he also got a text from Rollins, wishing good luck to the young shortstop taking his job.
"I'm trying not to think about [expectations] too much," Anderson said. "Just go out and do my normal thing I've been doing."
Hahn said the Jackson injury occurred on the bases in Thursday's 3-1 win against the Nationals. Jackson stayed in the game, but the postgame swelling left no doubt he was seriously hurt. Jackson, in his first year with the White Sox, is hitting .254/.318/.343, and his greatest impact was harder to measure.
Jackson's presence allowed Adam Eaton to move to right field, where he has excelled. This injury will push Eaton back to center, where he has spent most of his five-year career. Hahn said the injury could lead him to be more proactive in searching for another outfielder, whether that is a Minor Leaguer such as Jacob May or Adam Engel, or a player outside the organization.
And though White Sox brass knew about Webb and Petricka, the finality of the news is still a tough blow. The solace is watching Anderson stride out to take his place at shortstop. He will be there Friday, and if the White Sox have their way, he will be there for many days to come.
The top position-player prospect in the White Sox organization, Anderson should log a heavy workload if he can replicate his stellar Minor League stats in the big leagues. After hitting .312 with 49 steals in Double-A last season, the shortstop opened '16 with a .304 average and 11 swipes in 55 games with Triple-A Charlotte. As long as he collects base hits with regularity, the 22-year-old should be a mixed-league asset for any owner in need of a productive middle infielder or stolen-base boost.
Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.