White Sox eye quick return from COVID for Lucas Giolito

White Sox manager Tony La Russa said he thinks right-hander Lucas Giolito might be able to return to the rotation sooner than thought, which would provide short- and long-term benefits for the team’s upcoming eight-game trip.

‘‘As of Saturday, it appears that he’ll be able to pitch one of those games,’’ La Russa said, referring to a five-game series starting Monday against the Royals in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Sox haven’t named a starter for the series opener or for one of the games of the doubleheader Tuesday. Right-hander Dylan Cease will start one of the games Tuesday, leaving a scenario that could target Giolito for Monday or Tuesday, pending two negative COVID-19 tests.

The Sox are expected to purchase the contract of right-hander Johnny Cueto from Triple-A Charlotte and start him Monday or Tuesday, pending Giolito’s status.

The Sox already have projected right-hander Vince Velasquez and left-hander Dallas Keuchel to start the final two games of the series Wednesday and Thursday.

Should Giolito return for the front end of the series against the Royals, he would be on schedule to face the Yankees next weekend at Yankee Stadium.

Giolito pitched seven innings of one-run ball Tuesday against the Guardians and has allowed one run or fewer in three of his five starts.

Extra wait no Bummer

Left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer admitted a switch that requires pitchers to stay on the injured list for at least 15 days instead of 10 has reduced the urge to accelerate his recovery from a strained right knee.

‘‘I kind of make the joke I wish I would have gotten hurt five days sooner or something, so I would have been on the 10-day [IL], compared to the 15,’’ said Bummer, who is eligible to return next Sunday.

‘‘It’s definitely something to where we can be safe. It’s not only to make sure that the leg, the knee, that everything is good there, [but] it gives my arm a break to hopefully be able to keep going. It’s just an overall good reset. It’s good for the rest of the season.’’

Bummer appeared in a career-high 62 games last season and had appeared in 12 this season before feeling pain that he said has subsided since he went on the IL.

Bummer is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday.

Progress for Lynn

Right-hander Lance Lynn’s recovery from surgery on his right knee has advanced to the point where La Russa thinks he might be able to rejoin the rotation by late May or early June. That window originally was targeted for Lynn to be on a rehab assignment.

‘‘I think after another [bullpen session] or two, he’s going to start facing hitters,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘That would be a lift. He’s a big stalwart. In the meantime, you play with what you’ve got. We’re going to do that.’’

La Russa was more cautious about the potential return of slugger Eloy Jimenez, who has displayed remarkable mobility since having surgery April 26 to repair a tendon in his right hamstring.

‘‘Everybody believes his progress is really impressive,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘But there is a certain buildup in the muscle that has to happen, and you just can’t fast-forward that.’’

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