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White Sox’ release of Alcides Escobar puts Knights in middle of Major League brouhaha

A personnel decision by the Chicago White Sox made the Charlotte Knights a party to one of baseball’s bigger stories over the weekend.

Shortstop Alcides Escobar, who played a big role in the Kansas City Royals’ World Series victory in 2015 and was signed by the White Sox to a minor league contract this spring, was cut by the Sox on Friday.

Escobar made it clear later in the day that he was very unhappy.

The Venezuelan spent the entire season with Triple-A Charlotte and had played well. He ranked second in the International League in doubles (28), fourth in RBI (70) and was batting .286.

The White Sox, however, apparently did not see Escobar as showing enough promise for a return to the big leagues.

The Knights seemed appreciative of Escobar’s contributions, tweeting a video Friday of the shortstop’s biggest plays this season with the message, “A true professional. Thanks for everything.”

A short time later, Escobar retweeted the Knights’ message and added the comment, “I asked for my freedom they did not let me free I did it because they lied to me they are not honest.”

The White Sox, Knights and Escobar have made no further comment.

It appears Escobar felt he should have been promoted to Chicago. The White Sox called up another Knights’ infielder, second baseman Ryan Goins, a few weeks ago. Goins had made the International League all-star team and has done well in Chicago, batting .271 with two home runs and four doubles in 16 games.

Either way, Charlotte has lost one of its most dependable hitters. It’s all a part of life in the minor leagues, where the wishes of the major league team outrank anything else.

Here’s a look at how the Knights fared in the past week and what’s ahead:

Monday: Escobar’s eighth-inning sacrifice fly lifted Charlotte to a 6-5 road victory over the Norfolk Tides. Outfielder Luis Robert, the top prospect in the White Sox organization, made an outstanding catch in the seventh inning, keeping the game tied.

Tuesday: Off the field, the White Sox sent outfielder Ryan Cordell to Charlotte, called up pitcher Carson Fulmer, and assigned infielder Tim Anderson to Charlotte to rehab from an injury. On the field, the Knights battered Norfolk 15-5. Escobar went 4-for-5, driving in three runs.

Wednesday: The White Sox released outfielder Jacob Scavuzzo, who had hit .224 in 23 games with the Knights. They also promoted infielder Nick Madrigal to Charlotte from Double-A Birmingham (where he hit .341). Madrigal was Chicago’s first-round draft pick in 2018. The Knights then won their fourth in a row, downing visiting Durham 9-6. Yermin Mercedes hit his third homer in four games for the Knights.

Thursday: Early in the day, Chicago recalled Cordell. Then the Knights fell 7-6 to Durham, with Zack Collins and Daniel Palka each hitting home runs for Charlotte.

Friday: Off the field, in addition to the Escobar release, the White Sox called up first baseman Matt Skole and catcher Seby Zavala and sent pitcher Kelvin Herrera to Charlotte on an injury-rehab assignment. On the field, IL South leader Gwinnett pummeled Charlotte 17-4, despite a two-run homer by Robert for the Knights.

Saturday: Robert went 3-for-5 on his 22nd birthday, leading Charlotte to a 6-4 victory over Gwinnett.

Sunday: Charlotte’s game in Gwinnett was rained out and will not be made up this season.

Week ahead: The Knights are on the road, playing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and then Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Lehigh Valley. They return home Aug. 13.

Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle

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