(670 The Score) The White Sox received brutal injury news Tuesday, when starting second baseman Nick Madrigal underwent surgery to repair a torn hamstring and was officially ruled out for the remainder of the 2021 season.
As we often hear in sports, the White Sox will now need to utilize the next-man-up mentality to replace Madrigal, who was playing well in hitting .305 with a .774 OPS. One of those who will be tasked with stepping up is infielder Danny Mendick, who singled home the first two runs of the game in the White Sox’s 3-0 win against the MLB-leading Rays on Tuesday.
“You never wish an injury on a player,” Mendick said. “Nick is a great competitor and teammate. I will just try to fill his shoes and help the team get to where it needs to be.”
Mendick’s professional background is different from that of Madrigal, whom the White Sox selected fourth overall in the 2018 amateur draft. Mendick, 27, was selected by the White Sox in the 22nd round in 2015.
Mendick will now be the primary option at second base, which is a new reality for him. He has often been on the fringe of the White Sox’s roster, knowing that a trip to the minor leagues could always be on the horizon.
“It definitely takes away some of the stress of that coming up,” Mendick said.
“I am just excited about the opportunity, the opportunity to help our team win and be a part of this. I want to help the team get to the World Series.
“I have had to fight some perceptions about who I am and what could be expected of me. Right now, I am going to take my opportunity and know the first-round picks and 22nd-round picks are all playing in the same place. I will go out each day and show my ability to help the team win. I don't look at it like I am a 22nd-round pick. I look at it like I am a Major League Baseball player.”
Entering play Wednesday, Mendick was hitting .233 with two homers, 13 RBIs and a .684 OPS in 33 games. He’s a quality defender who runs the bases well and hits to all fields.
"I have always joked around about never being the guy who got off of the bus and looked like the stereotypical stud baseball player,” Mendick said. “I have always taken pride in being a guy who thinks ahead in situations and projects what could occur. Now with playing more at this level, the game does speed up, but internally I try to slow it down. I try to trust my baseball instincts and let that take over.”
With star center fielder Luis Robert and slugger Eloy Jimenez sidelined by serious injuries, the White Sox have produced at a high level offensively despite not putting up big home run numbers. Entering Wednesday, Chicago ranked sixth in MLB in averaging just shy of 5.0 runs per game and ranked 22nd with 66 homers.
Mendick knows he can have a role in small ball and manufacturing runs.
"You look at a team like the Rays for example,” Mendick said. “They take care of the baseball. We pride ourselves like they do in making the plays behind the pitcher who is working his tail off and then manufacturing run support.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.