Luis Robert walked to the plate in the first inning Thursday against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field, took a practice swing and then stepped into the batter’s box.
Robert stepped out momentarily, took another swing, then stepped back in and went to work.
Thursday marked Robert’s returned to the Chicago White Sox lineup for the first time in nearly three weeks. And he immediately hit a single against Cole Ragans.
Robert last played July 15, exiting after the first inning of a game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field with lightheadedness. He went on the injured list with blurred vision. The Sox reinstated him Tuesday. After sitting for two days, Robert was the designated hitter Thursday.
Robert described what sidelined him, saying through an interpreter: “Ever since the first day of Minnesota (on July 14), it was a few things with my vision. Just a bunch of stuff.”
Sox general manager Rick Hahn on Tuesday said of Robert: “Fundamentally, I believe that he was suffering the effects of a virus is probably a not very satisfying way of saying it. But the reality is he did have a couple of vitamin deficiencies that we’ve been able to address that have been linked to causing his symptoms, and fortunately those symptoms have resolved.
“As you would imagine, based on those symptoms, we put him through an extraordinary amount of testing, through which we were able to rule out a lot of bad things, which was obviously a great relief to everyone. And at this point it seems fairly clear he was suffering the ill effects of a virus that was perhaps causing his deficiencies and leading to his symptoms.”
Robert said “it felt weird.”
“Now I’m better, I’m good,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes (Friday) when I’m in center field. That will be the challenge, will be the test.”
When Robert went on the IL, Hahn said he was affected more in the field than at the plate. His return Thursday gave the Sox their most complete lineup of the season.
“I’m very glad to be back and happy to finally have our lineup,” Robert said. ‘It’s going to be fun for us.”
Shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jiménez, third baseman Yoán Moncada and catcher Yasmani Grandal were among the players to miss time because of injury. Those four, along with Robert and first baseman José Abreu, were core members of the 2020 team that reached the postseason. And they were all in the lineup Thursday.
“We are all together,” Abreu said Thursday through an interpreter. “We are united. And with Robert playing, it’s the first time we are all going to be playing at the same time actually (this season). That was how it was supposed to be since spring training.
“Just a great, great feeling. Knowing that the team is complete, that everybody is where he’s supposed to be is good. It’s something that makes you feel good. The past is in the past, and now we have to keep … moving forward.”
Abreu has been on a tear, slashing .367/.414/.561 with 12 doubles, five homers and 23 RBIs in his last 35 games entering Thursday. Jiménez had at least one hit in his last nine games.
“I have always seen what they do, how they go about their business,” Robert said of Abreu and Jiménez. “It’s good. I’m happy about the success they’re having right now, enjoying the moment. It’s definitely a good thing for everyone.”
Robert looked to pick up where he left off before the trip to the IL. He came into Thursday slashing .301/.334/.461 with 13 doubles, 12 home runs, 54 RBIs, 48 runs and 11 stolen bases in 74 games.
“Getting Luis back, when he left he was one of the hottest hitters in baseball,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said before the game.
La Russa said the plan was to rest Robert on Saturday, have him in the lineup Sunday and in one of the games in Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
“It’s a smart way to break his legs in,” La Russa said. “Hopefully he gets on base a lot.”
Robert was ready to contribute again in any form.
“I’ll be good with the plan they decide for me,” Robert said. “If that’s the plan they want me to follow, I am good with it.”