DETROIT (AP)The Chicago White Sox demoted slumping slugger Yermin Mercedes on Friday and recalled Jake Burger from Triple-A Charlotte, putting the infielder in the majors after two Achilles tendon injuries and a stint with a local Missouri league.
The AL Central-leading White Sox also reinstated outfielder Adam Eaton from the 10-day injured list and optioned right-hander Zack Burdi to their top farm club. Eaton had been sidelined by a strained right hamstring.
Mercedes, 28, was one of baseball’s biggest surprises early in the season, batting .415 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 22 games in April. In May, Mercedes angered manager Tony La Russa by homering on a 3-0 pitch in the ninth inning of a game the White Sox led 15-4.
The rookie has struggled of late, hitting .150 (16 for 107) over his last 31 games.
”We fully expect we will see him again at some point,” La Russa said. ”He left here dedicated to getting his bat back on track.”
The 25-year-old Burger was selected by Chicago with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft out of Missouri State. He hit .322 with 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 42 games with Triple-A Charlotte this season.
He started Friday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers at third base, grounding into a double play in his first at-bat. His family drove to Detroit from St. Louis after learning the news Thursday night.
”This feels really good,” he said before the game. ”This is kind of a surreal feeling. I’m still numb.”
Burger was considered one of the team’s top prospects before he tore his left Achilles tendon during a spring training game in February 2018. The same injury happened again in the backyard of his home in May of that same year.
When the minor league season was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Burger decided to play in the O’Fallon, Missouri-based CarShield Collegiate League. The White Sox approved the plan, wanting to help Burger get some game action.
This season, back in the minors, he hit .354 with four homers and 20 RBIs for the Knights in June.
”I just wanted to play my game, and do what I could do,” he said. ”I knew there was a possibility of getting called up, but I wasn’t focused on it. I stayed locked onto the next pitch.”
Burger could help the White Sox at second base or third. Second baseman Nick Madrigal is out for the year with a torn right hamstring. Third baseman Yoan Moncada is expected to miss the team’s three-game series at Detroit after he left Thursday’s 8-5 victory over Minnesota with a bruised right hand.
”We’ve got a fair number of walking wounded around here,” La Russa said. ”We needed someone like Jake, who gives us more positional versatility than what we were getting out of Yermin.”
The 6-foot-2 Burger was selected Wednesday for the AL team for the All-Star Futures Game on July 11 in Colorado.
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