Luis Robert probably won’t be asked to eat bugs or lie down in a coffin full of rats or ride a motorcycle off a skyscraper.
But he’ll be playing his own version of “Fear Factor” when he tests himself in game action Wednesday for the first time since tearing his hip flexor in early May.
RELATED: Luis Robert cleared to start rehab assignment
“I’ve felt pretty good for the last two weeks,” Robert, announced Monday to be heading out on a rehab assignment with Class A Winston-Salem later this week, said through team interpreter Billy Russo. “At first, I was a little concerned or afraid because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be at full speed. But then I started feeling more comfortable, more secure about the leg, and right now I feel pretty good.
“I think the last test is going to be when I start a real game. That’s when I’m going to see if the fear is there or not. Right now, I’m just waiting for that game on Wednesday and see what happens and how it goes. Once I play there, I can tell you how the fear factor is.”
The Chicago White Sox, of course, are hoping he fares better than the folks who coughed up cockroach parts in front of Joe Rogan.
Robert, as he always has been, is a big part of the White Sox championship plans. But while before he was an undoubted centerpiece, now he’ll be playing the role of a midseason spark plug. Along with Eloy Jiménez — who is currently on his own rehab stint at Triple-A Charlotte, battling back from a ruptured pectoral tendon — Robert could provide the kind of jolt few contenders experience, even via outside addition, in the second half of a pennant race.
That will only be possible, though, if he’s able to trust his leg.
Speed is one of those five — or six, depending on which Hall of Famer you ask — tools that make Robert such a unique talent and such a valuable member of the White Sox as they chase October glory. He’s already exhilarated fans and contributed to White Sox wins by racing down fly balls in center field and motoring from one base to another.
The White Sox certainly hope he can keep doing those kinds of things once he returns. They’ll need him to.
The White Sox and Robert are about to find out if he can.
“In the past, with my thumb or my wrist, (the injury) wasn’t anything major. But with this one, I was really concerned,” Robert said. “First, I spent a month without walking. Then I started walking little steps. Then when I started running, I was afraid because I couldn’t run 100 percent. And I was afraid of, ‘Man, I am going to lose one of my best tools.’
“I was concerned in that moment about it. But then my body started reacting in a good way, and I started feeling much better.”
Rehab assignments are typically good news, lights at the end of injury-induced tunnels. And Monday’s news on Robert was overwhelmingly positive in light of what the alternative could have been: the White Sox attempting to win without one of their most talented players.
This one, though, will come with some extra attention as Robert tests out the leg that took away two and a half months of his second season in the major leagues and increased the incline on the White Sox quest for a championship.
Jiménez is swinging well in his first game action since getting hurt. Now it’s time to see if Robert will run well in his. And if he can trust himself enough to let it rip.
The White Sox title hopes could very well depend on it.
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