The struggling Chicago White Sox reached a new low point of the season on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays when first-year manager Pedro Grifol lifted outfielder Luis Robert after he failed to give full effort on an infield grounder he hit in the first inning. The White Sox wound up losing the game by a score of 12-3 for their 10th-straight loss.
Here's a look at the Robert play:
Robert, who has excellent speed, likely could have beaten that out for an infield single had he been running full speed, but instead he was snuffed out on a lob to first base from pitcher Calvin Faucher and heard boos as he left the field. After a dugout conversation with Grifol, Robert stayed in the game to play center field in the top of the second, but Grifol lifted him before he could bat again.
The White Sox television broadcast noted that Robert appeared to be grimacing at one point while making his way to first base even as the club confirmed that he was pulled from the game via "manager's decision" and not with any reported injury. Post-game, however, Robert did indeed say he has a leg issue:
Pedro Grifol said he thought Robert Jr. possibly had a mental lapse and that he was benched to enforce the expectation for ground balls to be run out.— James Fegan (@JRFegan) April 30, 2023
Robert Jr. said he had been dealing with a tight right hamstring and didn’t tell the coaching staff, even after he was benched.
Robert, after being limited to just 98 games played in 2022 because of groin and hamstring injuries, is off to a slow start this season. Coming into Saturday's game, Robert had a slash line of .215/.250/.411.
As for the White Sox, their latest nadir was not just about the Robert controversy. Against the Rays on Saturday, veteran right-hander Lance Lynn carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Rather than close it out for the 21st no-no in franchise history, Lynn allowed an opposite-field homer on an 0-2 count to Wander Franco. At that point, the game unraveled for Chicago. They had held a 3-0 lead going into that top of the seventh, but the Rays wound up scoring 10 runs in the frame, four of which were charged to Lynn.
As a result, the White Sox are now 7-21 on the season and have registered their first 10-game losing streak since 2013. On the other, distant end of the continuum are the Rays, who are now 23-5 with a plus-106 run differential.