KANSAS CITY -- With Jose Abreu out of the lineup indefinitely, someone needs to fill the three-hole that Abreu occupied in 30 of his 43 starts this season.
On Monday, Alexei Ramirez drew the assignment, and he belted a three-run homer in the third inning.
Ramirez's scorching hot start to the season, which included a pair of walks and runs scored in the White Sox's 8-2 loss Sunday, earned him the No. 3 spot in the lineup, despite the fact that he has not hit higher than fifth this season.
"He fits the best for us being in the three-hole the way he's been swinging," manager Robin Ventura said.
Ventura also liked the flexibility Ramirez offered as a right-handed hitter in the middle of the order against a left-handed pitcher in the Royals' Jason Vargas. Putting Ramirez in the three-hole allows the White Sox to feature two right-handed batters in the top three.
After seeing his slugging percentage dip in 2012 and '13 to .372, compared to .421 in his first four seasons, Ramirez has already collected as many home runs this year as he did last season (six). He also leads the team in hits and steals. He's top five in the Majors in hits.
"We're different then we were a week ago. This is a good spot for him to be in," Ventura said.
No ligament damage in Abreu's left ankle
KANSAS CITY -- The White Sox received good news before Monday's game against the Royals when Jose Abreu's MRI revealed inflammation in his injured left ankle, but no ligament damage.
The rookie first baseman will spend the next few days in a walking boot, and he will be re-evaluated during Chicago's next homestand, which begins Thursday vs. the Yankees.
"They've basically done all the tests and determined it's inflammation, which is good," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You just want to make sure you can get that out of there and get him back to 100 percent as quick as you can, and this is the best way to do it."
Abreu went on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with posterior tibia tendinitis, an injury he played through for more than a week. But Ventura pulled him late in the White Sox 6-5 loss Saturday to the Astros when Abreu's discomfort became conspicuous.
Abreu leads the Major Leagues in home runs (15) and the American League in RBIs (42).
Adam Dunn started at first base Monday, one day after Paul Konerko filled the void.
"You get him in the middle of your lineup, and you're different, and I think we realized that early," Ventura said of Abreu. "Some way you have to fill it in and make due until he's back, and then you hope when he comes back, he picks up where he left off."
White Sox to assess Sale after next 'pen session
KANSAS CITY -- One potential offset of the Jose Abreu injury for the White Sox would be the return of starting pitcher Chris Sale.
That return could be on the horizon, as Sale plans to throw a bullpen session Tuesday to test the strained flexor mass muscle in his left arm that forced him out for the last month.
"After that, we'll make another assessment," manager Robin Ventura said. "Right now, he's feeling pretty good. General soreness, not necessarily in his arm or anything, but just the normal stuff that he has when he throws."
"[The pain is] mostly just in my lat, from getting extension, but nothing in my elbow. I played catch today and felt fine," Sale added.
Sale dazzled in a rehab outing Friday, striking out 11 in four innings at Triple-A Charlotte.
"I felt great in terms of physically and being able to locate my pitches," Sale said. "Even in between innings, getting loose, there was really nothing there that I felt at any given time, so that was a confidence booster for me, and I'm just trying to make strides from there."
In four starts this season, Sale notched three wins and holds a 2.30 ERA.
"I'm definitely ready," Sale said. "Like I've said a million times, it's no fun sitting around watching games, especially watching other people fill in for you, not being able to pull your own weight."
Sierra gets start in right field over De Aza
KANSAS CITY -- Moises Sierra took the place of the scuffling Alejandro De Aza in right field Monday for the White Sox.
Manager Robin Ventura said that his decision to sit De Aza on Monday revolved around the righty-lefty platoon Sierra offered, but it's also worth mentioning the opposite directions the players are trending.
Ventura made some pointed comments regarding poor baserunning by De Aza in the team's 6-5 loss to the Astros on Saturday. De Aza made the third out in the second inning trying to advance from second to third on Sierra's sacrifice fly.
De Aza played Sunday, but his 0-for-2 game dropped his batting average to .188. Sierra was hitting .303 entering Monday since the White Sox claimed him off waivers on May 3.
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.