White Sox rookie catcher Mercedes says he’s leaving baseball

Jul 21, 2021, 8:53 AM | Updated: 11:09 pm

CHICAGO (AP) — Yermín Mercedes, the surprising rookie who helped carry the Chicago White Sox with his booming bat early in the season and got sent to the minors following a prolonged slump, says he is stepping away from baseball.

Mercedes announced his decision on Instagram on Wednesday. He posted an image of the words “it’s over.”

“First of all, I want to thank God for giving me life to the fans that without them I’m nothing,” he wrote. “I walked away from baseball for a while. God bless you. It’s over.”

Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa said he had just heard about Mercedes’ decision to step away and planned to reach out to him. He said Mercedes has a “big league future.”

“You’re at Triple-A, you’ve tasted the big leagues, you can get emotional,” La Russa said. “But I don’t know more than that.”

The 28-year-old Mercedes sparked Chicago’s offense through the opening months of the season, batting .415 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 22 games in April. In May, Mercedes angered La Russa by homering on a 3-0 pitch in the ninth inning of a game the White Sox led 15-4.

“As you probably know, if you’re paying attention, several times he’s said how close we were,” La Russa said. “He knows I’m a supporter of his. So I’ll reach out to him and see what’s going on. It could be he’s just a little frustrated.”

The catcher eventually cooled off, hitting .150 (16 for 107) over his final 31 games with Chicago before being demoted to Triple-A Charlotte on July 2.

“He’s a talented guy,” La Russa said. “He earned the spot on the roster. Then, he earned all those at-bats. And he ran into what happens often to rookies. There’s so much video and tape and they start making adjustments. You have to learn how to adjust back. I know the stroke that he showed early — his head’s on the ball and he’s not getting too big — he can make those adjustments and he can hit in the big leagues.”

The White Sox said in a statement that they were aware of Mercedes’ Instagram post and that he was currently on the active roster for their Triple-A team in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“At this point in time, the White Sox have not received any official notification from Yermín concerning his future plans,” the statement said.

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