The White Sox lost one of their top hitters in Tim Anderson, who was placed on the 10-day injured list Saturday with a strained right groin.
Rookie Luis Robert replaced Anderson as the leadoff hitter, and looked very comfortable in the new role.
Robert went 4 for 6 with two doubles, a home run and two RBIs as the Sox crushed the Kansas City Royals 11-5 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
Eloy Jimenez hit a three-run home run during the four-run first inning. The ball bounced off the glove of center fielder Bubba Starling and went over the wall for Jimenez’s second home run of the season.
Jimenez had four hits — a career high — and four RBIs. Leury Garcia, who moved to shortstop in Anderson’s absence, matched a career high with four hits. Yoan Moncada had three hits.
The Sox collected 21 hits on the way to improving to 4-4. They’ve won three in a row.
Robert’s solo home run in the second extended the lead to 5-0. It was his second homer of the season. Robert, who turns 23 Monday, drove in Garcia with a double in the sixth. Robert scored later in the inning on a throwing error.
Sox manager Rick Renteria had previously said he wanted to use Robert lower in the lineup to get him acclimated to the big leagues. Robert hit in the No. 7 spot the first six games and the No. 6 spot Friday. Renteria looked at Saturday as an opportunity to see how Robert could fare in the top spot.
Anderson was the leadoff hitter in the first seven games. He was off to a strong start. Now, he’ll be out of the lineup for an undetermined amount of time.
“I was definitely excited to get back out there, but you can only control what you can control,” Anderson said before the game. “All I can do is continue to work to try to get back and not worry about too much. The bat is always going to be there. Just keep working, try to get healthy and get back out there and battle with my teammates.”
Anderson suffered the injury Friday in the Sox’s 3-2 victory against Royals. He slipped while trying to field a couple of grounders. Anderson went 2 for 3 before leaving in the seventh inning.
“It’s definitely frustrating but it’s a short season,” Anderson said. “I’m not trying to really force anything. There’s only 60 games. … I want to be out there. Everybody in this organization knows I want to be out there, but at the end of the day we’ve got to take care of what we’ve got to take care of. I’ll just put myself in the best position moving forward.”
Anderson, who led the majors in 2019 with a .335 average, is 10 for 33 (.333) with four doubles, one home run and one RBI in seven games this season.
“He’s worked extremely hard to make himself who he is,” Renteria said. “We’re going to miss him in this little window, but I’m sure he’s going to do everything he can to work himself back and be ready to go.”
Anderson’s injury also opens a window for Yermin Mercedes. The catcher joined the Sox from the team’s taxi squad in Schaumburg.
Mercedes, 27, had four home runs and nine RBIs in spring training. He had a .317 average with 23 home runs, 19 doubles and 80 RBIs in 95 games between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in 2019. He has no major league experience.
The Washington Nationals originally signed Mercedes as a free agent in 2011. The Sox acquired him from the Baltimore Orioles in the minor league phase of the 2017 Rule 5 Draft. Mercedes has a career .302 average in eight minor league seasons with the Nationals (2011-13), Orioles (2015-17) and Sox (2018-2019).
“I’m excited because I waited a long time, long time,” Mercedes said. “I can’t cry right now, I’m excited. I’ve waited a long time but now I’ve got it.”