The first real test of Jared Mitchell's professional career won't be adjusting to a full Minor League season at Double-A Birmingham or Triple-A Charlotte.
Instead, one of the top prospects in the White Sox system will be rehabbing a significant injury sustained during Cactus League play, an injury that could cost him the entire 2010 season.
Mitchell tore the tendon on the inside of his left ankle during Friday's 10-7 victory over the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium after running into the left-field wall to make a catch. He will have surgery next week, and his recovery time will be set at that point.
That spectacular catch took place on a ball hit by Juan Rivera for the first out of the sixth inning after Mitchell had entered the game as a defensive replacement.
"Very, very bad," said manager Ozzie Guillen of the injury. "Hopefully, it's not the worst thing about it. He has to use his speed and everything. It's a shame. He [was having] a good Spring Training.
"It's supposed to be about a year. We have to wait to see after surgery happens. Hopefully, everything goes well. The more important thing after that is the rehab, and hopefully, he'll get back pretty quick. We'll see what happens."
Guillen spoke about Mitchell after the White Sox had dropped a 6-5 decision to the Cubs at Cashman Field in Las Vegas, opening Big League Weekend between the intra-city rivals. He didn't witness Mitchell's injury, although he has witnessed the impact made by the 21-year-old during his time in camp.
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"This kid has a great chance to be in the big leagues," he said. "This kid, I think you are going to see him pretty soon in Chicago."
But that arrival will be delayed after Friday's unfortunate occurrence.
The team's top pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft was reassigned to the club's Minor League camp on Wednesday, getting ready to focus on the first athletic season in which he didn't split time between baseball and football, as he did at LSU.
But he was added to the roster on Friday because of the split-squad action in Tempe and Las Vegas.
"Unfortunately, this happened to him," said Guillen. "But this kid is still young. You don't want to hear anybody get hurt, especially this kid."
Rhett Bollinger and Scott Merkin are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.