DETROIT — White Sox manager Pedro Grifol opened his pregame session with reporters Saturday reiterating that Michael Kopech “is not a reliever,” even though he will be pitching out of the bullpen for perhaps the rest of the season. Kopech, who made his first relief appearance of the season Saturday against the Tigers, will go to spring training in 2024 as a starter, Grifol said.
Kopech “has all the characteristics of being a high-leverage, top-notch reliever,” Grifol said. “However, he has some characteristics of being a starter. In the world we live in where starters are really hard to find, we’re going to exhaust every opportunity we can to make sure he’s a starter.”
Kopech’s rotation turn was taken by Jose Urena a day after Grifol announced the move to the pen for the struggling Kopech, who entered Saturday with a 5.16 ERA and major-league-high 89 walks in 125⅔ innings as a starter.
The relief stint started well enough, with Kopech throwing a strike on the first pitch, then getting Spencer Torkelson on a nubber near the mound before he struck out Kerry Carpenter. But Matt Vierling parked an inside slider to left, the 29th home run allowed by Kopech this season.
Kopech touched 97 mph, and Grifol talked up the appearance despite the home run.
“I thought he was electric tonight,” Grifol said. “His fastball was jumping on hitters.”
2-game win streak snapped
The Sox got four decent innings from Urena in his Sox debut but fell to 55-87 with a 3-1 loss. Urena allowed four hits and two walks but gave up only one run. He struck out three.
The Sox need to go 8-12 to avoid losing 100 games.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Grifol said when asked if avoiding 100 losses would be important. “Ninety-nine, 100, is that a big difference? I just want to win as many games as possible. I’m not focusing so much on the losses; I’m focusing on the wins.”
Moncada has sore knee
Yoan Moncada’s home-run streak was stopped at three games, and in two at-bats he went down to a knee on swings because of a sore right knee, which was treated after the game.
“His knee got a little jammed up there early in the game,” Grifol said.
“It’s been bothering him the last couple of days. He probably reaggravated in [an] at-bat.”
Right-hander Luis Patino enjoys a close bond with former Sox left-hander and fellow Colombian Jose Quintana.
“He’s like a father for me,” Patino, 23, said. “He was very happy when he heard about the trade. He told me people here will be fair and give me a fair chance. It’s an honor to continue that legacy he started with the White Sox, and not just him but with [pregame instructor] Luis Sierra. He’s a fellow Colombian. His parents tutored me when I was a young player back in Colombia. It’s like family.”
Patino, who made his Sox debut with four scoreless innings against the Tigers last Saturday in Chicago, walked three and gave up a hit in one inning Saturday but allowed only one run. He struck out two.
This and that
After striking out three times, Luis Robert Jr. picked up his 72nd RBI with a single that scored Yasmani Grandal in the eighth inning. The Sox had four hits.
† Catcher Korey Lee has thrown out five of 14 baserunners, including one of two Saturday.