White Sox manager Pedro Grifol defends using catcher Korey Lee as DH

PHOENIX — White Sox manager Pedro Grifol knows it’s a hot topic every time he starts veteran Martin Maldonado and his .083 batting average behind the plate.

But Grifol emphasized the importance of giving Korey Lee a break from his catching duties by starting him at designated hitter.

‘‘I know [Maldonado] is not hitting, but his value behind the plate is critical,’’ Grifol said Sunday. ‘‘At the same time, it allows Korey to just focus on something that we’re going to ask him to do for a long, long time, which is hit on top of catch, right?’’

Lee entered the game Sunday with a slash line of .345/.387/.483 as a DH.

‘‘Sometimes you’ve got to just give him a break from playing defense and allow him to focus on his offense,’’ Grifol said.

Based on the last 20 games, Lee is projected to make 97 starts at catcher and 32 at DH.

‘‘It’s good development numbers for him,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘You can’t just throw him in there and say, ‘Here, figure it out,’ because there’s a lot to it.’’

Consolation prize

Outfielder Tommy Pham said he appreciated that the Diamondbacks presented him with a replica National League title ring but thought the on-field ceremony Friday felt hollow.

‘‘Because we didn’t win the World Series, it doesn’t necessarily feel right to me,’’ Pham said. ‘‘It’s a nice gesture from the organization, of course, but it doesn’t feel right.’’

Pham gave his ring size late and is expected to receive an authentic ring later.

Before playing his third game since returning from the 10-day injured list, Pham revealed he hurt his ankle on a slide into Brewers catcher William Contreras. He didn’t think it required a stint on the IL.

‘‘Our doctor based it off an MRI,’’ Pham said. ‘‘I kind of got the short end of the stick there, but I’m not going to take advice from doctors. I should have waited a couple of days before I went on the IL.’’

Catching over speed

The Sox avoided losing catcher Chuckie Robinson by adding him to the 40-man roster and optioning him to Triple-A Charlotte. Outfielder Duke Ellis, who stole 34 bases at Double-A Birmingham and four with the Sox during an eight-game stint this month, was designated for assignment.

Robinson had an opt-out clause that would have allowed him to become a free agent had the Sox not added him to the 40-man roster, Grifol said.

‘‘One is a premium-position guy [Robinson], and the other is premium speed [Ellis],’’ Grifol said. ‘‘Sometimes you’ve got to make a tough decision, and that was it.’’


In the wake of the Diamondbacks’ intentional balk Saturday that prevented Maldonado from detecting pitches tipped from second base, Grifol said the Sox have caught opponents stealing signs.

‘‘I don’t want to bring awareness to anybody,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘But we just had one in Seattle, and it was a big deal. We had to make an adjustment, so it’s part of it.’’

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