The Chicago White Sox will return to division play Monday, but what they really want is to return to good health and finally get a glimpse of what their team can do at full strength.
First it was Gordon Beckham who started the season on the disabled list, then came injuries to Nate Jones, Avisail Garcia, Chris Sale, Conor Gillaspie, Adam Eaton and now Jose Abreu. Garcia is out for the season and Abreu will remain sidelined until his ankle tendonitis subsides.
When they take on the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium for three games starting Monday, Garcia, Sale and Abreu all will be unavailable, meaning that three players from Opening Day will be missing. Eaton is back, though, going 1-for-4 against the Astros on Sunday in his return from a hamstring issue.
The White Sox will limp into the series after going 1-2 in back-to-back road series against American League West teams (Oakland and Houston). Before that, they went 1-2 in an interleague battle against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The White Sox started off strong against the AL Central, trying to reverse a trend from last season when they went 26-50 against their most common opponents. Since a solid start this year, though, the White Sox have lost five of their last six games against division teams (they are 9-10 vs. the AL Central overall).
The Royals are 22-21 this season, and have been somewhat of a disappointment, especially on offense. The Royals' pitching staff is third in the AL with a 3.43 overall ERA, but the offense has scored just 166 runs 13th in the 14-team AL.
The Royals have just 20 home runs, putting them on pace for just 75 all season.
HEAD TO HEAD
White Sox hitters have had a ton of individual success against Royals starter Jason Vargas as Paul Konerko is 7-for-16 (.438) against him, while Alexei Ramirez is 8-for-18 (.444) and Adam Dunn has two home runs in seven at-bats. ... The White Sox faced Royals starter Yordano Ventura once last season, hitting three home runs against him. The right-hander has given up just five home runs total in eight starts this season. ... Ramirez is just 7-for-40 (.175) in his career against Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie. ... White Sox starter Jose Quintana has eight starts against the Royals, more than any other team in baseball, and he doesn't have a victory against them. He is 0-3 with a 4.11 ERA.
The White Sox have lost six of their past eight games. ... Despite an up-and-down offense this season, the White Sox continue to hit a solid .279 (112-for-401) with runners in scoring position. ... The White Sox's bullpen delivered 3 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings Sunday, a good sign after posting a 4.82 ERA over their last 28 innings. That stretch came after a run of 23 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings earlier this month. ... The White Sox are 10-8 against teams over .500, but a disappointing 11-16 against teams with a losing record.
Monday: White Sox RH Scott Carroll (1-3, 5.24 ERA) vs. Royals LH Jason Vargas (4-1, 3.00), 7:10 p.m. CST
Tuesday: White Sox RH Andre Rienzo (3-0, 4.20) vs. Royals RH Yordano Ventura (2-2, 2.34), 7:10 p.m. CST
Wednesday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (2-3, 3.67) vs. Royals RH Jeremy Guthrie (2-3, 4.76), 7:10 p.m. CST