Joe Kelly immediately knew something wasn’t right.
The Chicago White Sox reliever received a visit from the training staff after he struck out Franchy Cordero for the second out of the eighth inning Wednesday against the Boston Red Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Kelly exited the game — a 3-1 White Sox win — was placed on the 15-day injured list Thursday with a strained left hamstring.
“It was on the last pitch,” Kelly said Thursday. “Right when I landed. Tried to throw the breaker really hard. It’s not from that, but it came out 86 (mph), (the) leg kind of tightened up on me and it ended up being a strain.”
The right-hander, who signed as a two-year, $17 million deal in March, is 0-1 with a 9.53 ERA in seven appearances for the Sox. He began the season on the injured list as he recovered from a right biceps nerve injury.
After a rehab stint with Triple-A Charlotte, Kelly joined Sox on May 9.
“I felt comfortable throwing the ball, that’s for sure,” Kelly said. “Unfortunate on the timing of it. Especially with us playing some good baseball. Going to do whatever I can to make it as quick as possible the safe way and then get back. I’m going to still try to throw the baseball as much as I can every day, body workouts, right leg workouts, push, push, push, push and try to get back.”
He allowed five runs in two-thirds of an inning May 12 against the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field but gave up only one run in his last four innings.
“He understands how valuable he is to us, and we are going to miss him,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “He’s a real weapon.”
Kelly got three big outs in Game 1 of a May 22 doubleheader against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Entering with two on and no outs, he struck out Marwin Gonzalez, picked off Aaron Hicks at second and struck out Jose Trevino to maintain a one-run lead.
“Kelly was just perfect,” La Russa said after that game.
Kelly struck out two batters Wednesday before exiting.
“He has some nasty stuff,” La Russa said after Wednesday’s game. “He can get you out with three or four pitches. He loves that pressure.”
Kelly won’t be available for a stretch that includes games against some familiar faces.
“It’s more frustrating knowing that I’ll be missing some big games,” Kelly said. “Former team with the Red Sox, former team with the (Los Angeles) Dodgers coming into town. (Toronto) Blue Jays, Tampa (Bay Rays), these are all stud teams. These are all playoff teams. That’s what I like to challenge myself with. I like throwing the ball in the playoffs just for that same exact reason. Every game is going to be close, every game is going to be exciting.
“I’m more frustrated by the fact that I’m going to miss the competition with our guys, especially with our guys in the bullpen throwing the ball well. Going to miss the big at-bats — that’s ultimately the more frustrating thing. Not necessarily, ‘Oh, great, another rehab.’ I’m a little mentally tough with that kind of thing. I’m more mad I’m going to be missing the big dogs, the big teams.”
Kelly said the rehab steps include getting his range of motion and strength back.
“Everyone’s different on healing,” Kelly said. “If I was someone who worked a regular desk job, they would say three to four weeks. I throw a baseball. It’s my landing leg so could be quicker. I never assume that it’s going to be longer.
“They’re great at this stuff, obviously we rehabbed to get back on the mound from the nerve injury and I was throwing the ball well. Just follow their lead and don’t do anything dumb while rehabbing. Strengthen it up and get ready to throw.”
In Thursday’s corresponding move, the White Sox recalled reliever Tanner Banks from Triple-A Charlotte. He had a 3.00 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 11 relief outings with the White Sox this season before being optioned to Charlotte on Sunday.