CHICAGO — White Sox right-hander Michael Kopech left his start against the Rangers Sunday after two batters with right knee discomfort, departing following the fifth pitch of an eventual strikeout of Adolis García finished off by Reynaldo López. Kopech will undergo further evaluation and said following an 8-6 loss in 12 innings that soreness still existed along with some fluid in his knee.
But after hearing a pop that led to first inning frustration and anger, the best news after the disappointing setback was Kopech possibly being able to pitch next Sunday in Houston.
“Once I get the fluid to dissipate, I’ll be in a good position,” Kopech said. “But it’s sore right now.”
“Whatever it was, it was explained it may not be anything that prevents him staying in the rotation and pitching,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “We’ll see. That’s the first I heard during the game.”
Kopech got a 3-1 called strike on the pitch to García but won after throwing the pitch and walked around behind the mound. La Russa and assistant athletic trainer Josh Fallin checked on Kopech, who tried to throw a warmup pitch but could not and slammed the ball to the field as he walked off.
That frustration came from not being able to go deep into the game for a team with a taxed bullpen, and from one of the truly elite starters during the season’s first 2 1/2 months. It also stemmed from fear of a more significant injury.
“A little bit of both. Obviously, I’ve had a lot of time missed since my debut,” Kopech said. “When something like this happens, you start running through all those thoughts again.
“But the more I sat in there, things were going to be OK. Watching the team on a day where we needed to eat some innings, it’s frustrating. And to lose a tough one like that, it’s more frustrating. There’s a lot of built up tension from wanting to compete and not getting that opportunity.”
AJ Pollock helped Kopech on the first batter of the game, taking away a home run from Marcus Semien with a leaping catch in left. Corey Seager grounded out for the only other out recorded by Kopech. Johnny Cueto, who was scheduled to start Monday in Detroit and hadn’t even stretched Sunday, threw five innings behind López and the Kopech injury.
“I felt a twinge, pinch or pop or whatever you want to call it. I felt like I couldn’t get on it again. It sounds like it felt worse than what it was,” said Kopech, who has a 1.92 ERA and will join the team Monday in Detroit. “We’re going to take it day by day, but it’s looking like I can be back out there soon.
“There’s some fluid back there and we’ll try to get it cleaned up. I was frustrated. I thought it was worse than what it was, but I’m grateful for the news.”