Sunday, December 4, 2022

White Sox To Activate Eloy Jimenez In Coming Days

The White Sox have been without Eloy Jimenez for two and a half months, as the slugging outfielder tore a tendon in his right hamstring on April 23. He’ll soon return to the lineup, however, as various reporters (including Jesse Rogers of ESPN) noted that he’s reported to the major league team after wrapping up a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte yesterday. Jiménez won’t be active for tonight’s game against the Twins, but manager Tony La Russa said he’ll be reinstated within the next few days — perhaps as soon as tomorrow (via Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times).

Jiménez’s impending return should be a boon for a lineup that has underwhelmed this season. The defending AL Central winners entered the year with one of the league’s more imposing rosters, but they carry a 38-40 record into play Tuesday night. Offensive struggles have been a key reason, as Chicago hitters carry a .254/.309/.377 line as a unit. They’re 19th in MLB in on-base percentage and 23rd in slugging output, while their 98 wRC+ indicates they’ve been two percentage points worse than a league average offense. That places them 20th leaguewide.

Left field has been one of a handful of problem areas, as the Sox have received a meager .250/.292/.387 showing out of the position. Jiménez contributed to that somewhat with a rough 11 games to start the season, but the bigger factor has been a down year from Spring Training acquisition AJ Pollock. The veteran outfielder did have a decent June after a dismal first two months of his White Sox’s tenure, and Jiménez’s activation should afford Chicago the freedom to plug Pollock into right field regularly as they’d intended to open the season.

Gavin Sheets has seen the bulk of the right field playing time of late. The left-hander has hit .227/.296/.372, production that has been superior to Pollock’s but still below-average. He’s also rated poorly in the eyes of public defensive metrics, not surprising given that he’s spent the vast majority of his professional career playing first base.

Jiménez has missed notable chunks of each of the past two seasons. He was limited to 55 games last year after rupturing his pectoral tendon during Spring Training. That delayed his debut until late July, and he had a fairly disappointing .249/.303/.437 showing during the year’s final couple months. The 25-year-old showed the potential to be a middle-of-the-order presence over his first two big league seasons, though, combining for a .276/.321/.527 showing with 45 homers in 175 games from 2019 -20.

Activating Jiménez will require a 40-man move, as Chicago’s roster is currently full. That’s largely a formality, since infielder Danny Mendick can be transferred from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list after suffering a season-ending ACL tear last month.

Chicago also seems set to welcome back another injured regular in the relatively near future. Yasmani Grandal told reporters (including James Fegan of the Athletic) that he’s joining Double-A Birmingham tomorrow to start a rehab stint. Out since June 12 due to back spasms, Grandal will ease back into game action as a designated hitter before getting behind the plate. The veteran backstop suggested he’s hoping to return shortly after the All-Star Break, where he’ll look to rebound from a rough .185/.294/.237 showing through the season’s first couple months.

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