DETROIT — The Chicago White Sox demoted slumping slugger Yermín Mercedes on Friday and recalled Jake Burger from Triple-A Charlotte, putting the infielder in the majors after two Achilles tendon injuries and a stint with a local Missouri league.
The AL Central-leading White Sox also reinstated outfielder Adam Eaton from the 10-day injured list and optioned right-hander Zack Burdi to their top farm club. Eaton had been sidelined by a strained right hamstring.
Mercedes, 28, was one of baseball’s biggest surprises early in the season, batting .415 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 22 games in April. In May, Mercedes angered manager Tony La Russa by homering on a 3-0 pitch in the ninth inning of a game the White Sox led 15-4.
The rookie has struggled of late, hitting .150 (16-for-107) over his past 31 games.
“I’ve seen a lot of young hitters come in and have early success (but) they aren’t really ready for the adjustments the league is going to make to them,” La Russa said Friday. “And it’s gotten more sophisticated over the years. If they don’t look good in an at-bat, someone is noticing and they’re going to feed that.”
The 25-year-old Burger was selected by Chicago with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft out of Missouri State. He hit .322 with 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 42 games with Triple-A Charlotte this season.
Burger was considered one of the team’s top prospects before he tore his left Achilles tendon during a spring training game in February 2018. The same injury happened again in the backyard of his home in May of that same year.
When the minor league season was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Burger decided to play in the O’Fallon, Missouri-based CarShield Collegiate League. The White Sox approved the plan, wanting to help Burger get some game action.
The Sox made the move to promote Burger in part because he gives them more flexibility on defense. The team is dealing with injuries to several players, including third baseman Yoan Moncada, who is expected to miss the team’s three-game series at Detroit after he left Thursday’s 8-5 victory over Minnesota with a bruised right hand.
The 6-foot-2 Burger was selected Wednesday for the AL team for the All-Star Futures Game on July 11 in Colorado.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers and The Associated Press contributed to this report.