The Chicago White Sox remain the -145 moneyline favorites at William Hill Sportsbook to win the AL Central Division for the first time since 2008, but the Pale Hose got another big dose of bad news in their outfield Monday with five-tool young star Luis Robert expected to miss 3-4 months with a hip injury – this on top of the serious spring injury to fellow young slugger Eloy Jimenez that may cost him the entire season. The Minnesota Twins (+360 to win Central) and Kansas City Royals (+425) and perhaps Cleveland Indians (+800) could be in a position to capitalize now in the division.
Robert fell to the ground after beating out an infield single to third base in the first inning of Sunday's game vs. Cleveland. It looked serious right away. An examination on Monday showed a Grade 3 strain (torn hip flexor) of Robert's right hip and the immediate timetable is 12-16 weeks with no baseball activities. Best-case scenario, Robert is back in late August.
The 23-year-old Robert was the favorite much of last season to win AL Rookie of the Year honors until slumping in September, which opened the door for Seattle outfielder Kyle Lewis to win the award. Robert hit .233 with 11 homers, 31 RBIs and nine steals in 56 games.
This season, Robert is hitting .316 with a homer and eight RBIs. He was batting .392 with five doubles, a triple, four RBIs, seven runs and seven multi-hit performances in his last 14 games. He's also a terrific defensive center fielder, winning a Gold Glove as a rookie. MLB.com had a list of top players in MLB under 25 back in spring training and Robert was No. 5.
On March 24, Jimenez ruptured his left pectoral tendon trying to make a leaping catch during an exhibition game against Oakland. He underwent surgery a few days later. He might be back in September. Jimenez his .296 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs in 55 games a year ago.
Another outfielder, Adam Engel, is working his way back from a strained right hamstring suffered near the end of spring training and recently had a setback. The Pale Hose may have no choice now but to trade for outfield help.
"The setback put us back to square one in terms of his return," GM Hahn said of Engel. "He is trending in the right direction but we are currently three weeks away from Adam beginning a rehabilitation assignment."
Chicago returns to action Tuesday in interleague action at Cincinnati. GM Rick Hahn said to expect Leury Garcia or Billy Hamilton to play center field on Tuesday.
William Hill lists the White Sox as +500 second favorites behind the Yankees (+300) to win the AL pennant. The Sox have by far the best run differential in the AL Central at plus-28, but surprising Kansas City leads the division.
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