The cameras caught a lively discussion between Chicago White Sox pitcher Lance Lynn and third base coach Joe McEwing in the dugout before the top of the third Monday at Comerica Park.
“He was trying to get me going,” Lynn said. “He kept telling me that fillets are better than ribeye, I’m more of a ribeye and potatoes guy. He’s a fillet and Caesar salad. I just told him was wrong.
“And then he went back to coaching third.”
Lynn was back on mound, making his season debut for the Sox against the Detroit Tigers. The right-hander allowed three runs on 10 hits with four strikeouts and no walks in 4⅓ innings.
He threw 88 pitches (52 strikes) and didn’t factor in the decision in the 9-5 victory in front 16,634.
Kyle Crick, Bennett Sousa, Tanner Banks and Kendall Graveman were called on in relief and José Abreu led the way offensively with two two-run homers as the Sox began a six-game trip on a positive note.
Lynn, 35, had been out since he hobbled off the mound in an April 2 Cactus League game after throwing a pitch to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Corbin Carroll. He underwent right knee surgery to repair a torn tendon three days later.
“It felt good to be back,” Lynn said.
And the Sox were happy to have the boost he provides to the rotation.
“He came out of it good,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said.
Lynn settled in after a tough first couple of innings. The Tigers scored twice in the first, including a homer by Willi Castro on Lynn’s first pitch. Lynn allowed one more run in the second on Harold Castro’s two-out bloop single to center. The Tigers had seven hits in the first two innings.
“Early on you’re trying to feel some things out and they jumped me pretty soon, first pitch of the game,” Lynn said. “I figured they would. It would have been nice to make a little bit more of a quality pitch there. Start giving up some hits, that’s part of it. I was able to turn the tide there, start making pitches and start doing a little more of what I’m capable of and things started feeling about as good as they possibly could.”
The Sox trailed 3-2 when Lynn and McEwing were shown talking before the third.
“He was mad at himself because he made a horse manure pitch,” La Russa said. “And right away, guys thought it was because of positioning, and Joe asked and he said, ‘No. No.’ I had to tell him, I know this guy (also managing him in St. Louis). I could just read his lips. He was mad because he didn’t make the pitch. Cleared it up and he went out. He’s never going to blame, you talk about accountability, he’s one of the best.
“He’s totally accountable about himself. It’s a huge plus for him that he’s accountable and it’s a huge message to young pitchers.”
Lynn had a 1-2-3 third inning and allowed two hits, but struck out two, in a scoreless fourth. He exited after allowing a one-out double in the fifth.
“Just trusting it, trusting how you feel,” Lynn said of the success later in his outing. “Getting in the rhythm of the game and actually knowing that you feel good enough to make the pitch and not worry about anything else. That’s part of the process, especially when you get back up here.”
Lynn originally was in line to start Tuesday but was bumped up a day after Michael Kopech left Sunday’s game against the Texas Rangers in the first inning with right knee discomfort. Monday’s scheduled starter Johnny Cueto stepped in for five relief innings beginning in the third.
Four relievers followed Cueto in that game, which the Sox lost 8-6 in 12 innings. There was more work Monday, and the group held the Tigers to two runs over the final 4⅔ innings.
“You go to the bullpen that we had, the matchups were in their favor and they made pitches,” said La Russa, who noted before the game that closer Liam Hendriks has been dealing with arm stiffness. “Special win.”
Abreu hit a two-run homer in the first and another in the ninth. Luis Robert broke a 3-all tie with an RBI single in the fifth. The Sox led the rest of the game.
The team received a scare in the fourth when the training staff checked on Jake Burger after he was hit in the hand with a pitch. He remained in the game to finish the at-bat, umpires ruled he offered on the pitch, and grounded out. Seby Zavala hit for him in the fifth as Burger exited with a bruised right hand. X-rays were negative.
“It looked bad,” La Russa said. “He was having trouble swinging so we banged him. And then it started feeling better and he thought there was a re-entry rule.
“He said he was ready to swing later. Good break for us.”
And good marks for Lynn in his first test.
“There’s times when you feel good and there are times when you think you’re good and it starts barking again,” Lynn said. “I think that’s going to be the course of the season, to be honest. But as we build up and the innings mount, I think we have a good idea about how to make sure it’s where it needs to be and where I can stay strong as the season goes on here.”
Yasmani Grandal to IL, Joe Kelly and Vince Velasquez near returns
Lynn’s return was one of three roster moves Monday by the Sox, who placed catcher Yasmani Grandal on the 10-day injured list with lower back spasms and requested waivers on pitcher Ryan Burr for the purpose of granting his unconditional release.
Grandal’s IL stint is retroactive to Sunday. He left Saturday’s game in the third inning with left hamstring tightness.
“(Sunday) I was doing great,” Grandal said before Monday’s game. “I thought for sure I would have been nothing less than a day. I don’t know what happened, but throughout the night I just started getting this pain down my leg and couldn’t even walk (Monday). It ends up being more of a lower back spasm and that’s what’s making everything else tight, which is probably the reason why the hamstring pulled.
“But we don’t think it’s anything I haven’t gone through before. I think, 2020, I had almost the same thing. I think it was against Detroit, too, at home. We just decided it was best to go on the 10-day just to get everything cleared out and that way by the time I come back, it’s full go. We won’t know how long it’s going to take, but if it takes five days maybe I’m able to go down to Charlotte or something like that and start getting (at-bats) down there and catching down there.”
Before the game, La Russa indicated more help could be on the way for the Sox pitching staff, saying reliever Joe Kelly is in line to be activated Tuesday. Kelly has been on the injured list since May 26 with a strained left hamstring.
La Russa also said Vince Velasquez, who was retroactively placed on the injured list May 31 with a left groin strain, is Wednesday’s likely starter.
Kopech will throw a bullpen later this week and the team will determine if he’ll be available this weekend in Houston against the Astros, La Russa said.