Gavin Sheets was one of the players providing outfield help when the Chicago White Sox were hit with injuries.
The Sox recalled Sheets from Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday, and he made an immediate impact as their designated hitter with two home runs and four RBIs in a 6-3 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates in front of 19,231 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“Obviously, I hoped to get back here as soon as possible,” Sheets said. “I’m excited to be here, excited to make this run with the team. It feels really good to be back.”
Sheets hit six home runs in 29 games with the Sox from June 29 to Aug. 8.
The power was back on display Wednesday.
“That’s how he looked in spring training,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “A lot of those young guys made such an impression because they would just play late in the game, or you wouldn’t play them for three days, and when they played, they played like it was the seventh game of the World Series. They’ve carried that hunger over.
“We get a lot of reports from (Charlotte manager) Wes (Helms) and (assistant general manager/player development) Chris (Getz) and those guys, and they’re all busting it. He wants to be a productive big-leaguer. You’ve got to like his chances. I do.”
Sheets hit a three-run homer to right with two outs in the fourth against Pirates starter Max Kranick, giving the Sox a 3-0 lead.
“The three-run home run, it was a big moment,” Sheets said. “I was trying to just keep the ball in play and hit the ball hard. I thought his fastball, I was really aggressive early, which was a big thing for me. Just missed that first pitch he threw me and thought there was a chance he could double up because he had been doing it on a couple guys earlier in the game.
“My first at-bat, he bounced a curveball to me that hit me. Just staying aggressive and was able to get a pitch in the zone that I could do some damage with.”
Sheets hit a solo home run to center in the eighth against Duane Underwood Jr. for the game’s final run. Sheets got behind 0-2, then fouled off four pitches before hitting the home run.
“The last home run was just a battle,” he said. “It was just backing things up a bit. I was ahead of his off-speed (pitch) and just trying to back things up and got a heater over the middle of the plate.”
Sheets said the biggest thing he took from his previous stint with the Sox was confidence.
“I had a lot of confidence going back down (to Charlotte),” Sheets said. “I knew I could compete at the big-league level, and I just ran with that, took it back down to Charlotte and continued to swing the bat well and just not change anything. But definitely, that confidence carried through.”
He also took with him the knowledge of how major-league pitchers would attack him.
“You understand what you need to work on, what you struggle with, what you did well with and definitely work on that there,” he said. “It’d be silly not to and silly to come back doing the same stuff. I was able to work on stuff there, not necessarily mechanical things but definitely approach-wise. And that carried through tonight.”
Sheets was one of four Sox with two hits.
Leury García had two hits, one RBI and scored once, and Yasmani Grandal had two hits and scored twice. Luis Robert also had two hits, while Yoán Moncada singled in the fifth to extend his career-high hitting streak to 16 games.
Sox starter Carlos Rodón allowed one run on five hits with five strikeouts and one walk in five innings, helping the Sox to their fifth win in six games.
Sheets was thrilled to be in a position to contribute again.
“It’s great,” he said. “To say I missed this place would be an understatement. This is an awesome clubhouse, awesome guys. And you dream about being in a playoff chase and being in first place. To be back here and helping this team win, that’s what it’s all about. It’s an incredible feeling.”