Powell: White Sox Rebuild Hits First Hiccup With Jake Burger Injury

White Sox 2018 Spring Training Opener. (WGN Radio)

By Kevin Powell

It’s tough to sugarcoat the Jake Burger injury, despite the 21-year-old remaining as positive as can be following a devastating Achilles injury. But it’s tough to shrug off an injury of this severity when things were going so well at Camelback Ranch.

“I went down, and I kind of immediately knew something was wrong,” the 2017 first-round draft pick said on Tuesday. “You know, there’s nothing really to say. It sucks, but I’ve got to stay positive.”

Everything was pretty much going according to plan at Sox camp. Relationships were being built. Fun was being had. And then in the third inning of Monday’s game, Burger went down while running out a grounder. Tuesday morning, the full diagnosis came in – a ruptured left Achilles tendon.

“Sox fans all around the globe have been tweeting me, keeping me positive.” Burger said. “Charlie Tilson came over last night, brought me some Gamecube games. He knows what it feels like to have something like this happen….And when something like this happens, you have a decision to make. You can mope around and be disappointed in it. Or, you can take it as a positive thing and look at the positive.”

So, Burger’s got the right approach and the right mindset to attack this sort of injury. Here’s what his manager, Rick Renteria had to say.

“It’s a bummer, it’s a downer He was very, very positive after talking to him. He’s a positive kid. He’s going to get himself ready and take care of himself, do everything he’s got to do to get himself back on the map.”

These sorts of things happen. But the goal this season for a rebuilding Sox club was individual player development and keeping everyone healthy. So, yes, it does sting to see one of the most promising young players in the farm system go down with an injury of this magnitude.

Just a little over 24 hours before the injury, Renteria was praising Burger’s performance in camp.

“All I know, is he’s hit two balls that came off of his bat like rockets. The ball that he hit [Saturday] to right. We looked in, he put the bat on the ball, before we could blink the ball was in right field….listen, this kid’s a good kid.

“He has a really good sense of himself, knows what he can do and what he can’t do. Emotionally, he’s in a really good place. He’s a mature young man. I think he has a chance to continue to develop his skill set and be an excellent major league baseball player.”

Obviously, there is still hope Burger can live up to the expectations of a first-round pick. And he even thinks he can use the time off as an advantage.

“It’s kind of like an extended offseason, you know? I can focus on my nutrition, focus on my diet, (and) focus on my diet.”

Maybe he can give Avi Garcia or Kyle Schwarber a call for nutrition tips and advice.

As we’ve heard another baseball guy in town say before: “progress isn’t linear.” Progress, nor success is linear. This is why you stockpile your system with as much talent as possible.

It is a hiccup to the rebuild. But Burger and the rest of the Sox are handling the injury the right way. Expect the imposing third baseman back and healthy in 7-9 months.

Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720