Chicago White Sox rookie designated hitter Yermin Mercedes has returned to the team's Triple-A affiliate, just a day after suggesting on his Instagram account that he was taking a leave from the sport.
According to James Fegan of The Athletic, Mercedes is not only with the Charlotte Knights ahead of their game on Thursday against the Durham Bulls, but he 's also in uniform and on the active roster. Mercedes had posted an image saying "it's over" on Wednesday night, accompanied by an apologetic caption. That post is now deleted.
In an Instagram post, Yermin Mercedes, an April sensation with the Chicago White Sox, says he's stepping "away from baseball for a while ... it's over."— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 22, 2021
Mercedes was sent to AAA earlier this month and had been playing well, hitting .309/.377/.655. pic.twitter.com/11P6EgpiKn
Mercedes took to Instagram again on Thursday, saying he's "never going to give up."
Mercedes was one of the biggest stories of the early weeks of the 2021 season. The 28-year-old batted .415/.455/.659 through the end of April with five home runs and 34 hits in 22 games. Fifteen of those hits came in his first six games of the season. He also became the first player in modern MLB history to begin his career with eight straight hits. As a result, Mercedes was named the AL Rookie of the Month for April.
However, Mercedes' decline began soon thereafter. In May, he batted .221/.292/.326 with two home runs in 28 games, and manager Tony La Russa touched off controversy after he criticized Mercedes for homering on a 3-0 pitch from a position player pitching in a blowout. In June, Mercedes' slash line dipped to .159/.221/.190 in 18 games. In early July, the White Sox demoted him to Triple-A Charlotte.
He had been producing at a high level since being sent down, but Mercedes doesn't have an obvious path back to the majors at this time. No doubt, that contributed to his seeming frustration. Right now, Gavin Sheets and Jake Burger are sharing time at DH, and the eventual returns of injured outfielders Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert may lead to a roster crunch.
The White Sox originally acquired Mercedes from the Baltimore Orioles during the minor-league phase of the 2017 Rule 5 draft. In his meandering journey to MLB, Mercedes spent parts of nine seasons in the minors, including two stints in unaffiliated independent ball. If this is indeed the end for Mercedes, then he concludes his MLB career with a line of .270/.327/.402 with seven home runs and 65 hits in 69 games with the White Sox.