MESA, Ariz. — Eloy Jimenez cracked a wide smile when someone said “Cubs” the other day. The White Sox’ No. 1 prospect wanted to play Tuesday against the organization that signed but traded him last summer.
But a sore left knee is preventing Jimenez, who hasn’t played since the spring opener Friday, from returning to game action.
Manager Rick Renteria and Jimenez are both saying the soreness is minor, but it certainly bears watching in the coming days. Jimenez hit and participated in drills on the field Tuesday morning at Camelback Ranch “just to test it out,’’ Renteria said, but he won’t be out there Wednesday as he stays on a “one-day on, one-day off routine.’’
“I was going to put him in,’’ Renteria said. “We pulled back from him. Like all our guys we’re going to take a step back and be careful with him. . . . We’ll put a plan together and see where he’s at.’’
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The Sox are planning on Jimenez being special, so they’ll proceed with caution. Cubs manager Joe Maddon saw his potential last spring.
“Really bright,’’ said Maddon said of Jimenez. “Very engaging conversationally, inquisitive.’’
And that bat.
“Offensively, wow,’’ Maddon said. “The swing’s special. It’s very special. There’s no question he’s going to be very good.
“The biggest thing was his arm, I thought. Just to make sure that he takes care of his arm. Defensively, he’ll have to work there also.’’
Cease settling in
Right-hander Dylan Cease knew something was up at the time, but he admits getting traded from the Cubs’ organization to the Sox’ last summer rocked his world.
“It was pretty overwhelming at first,’’ who was rated as the Cubs’ No. 1 pitching prospect at the time he came to the Sox with Jimenez and infielders Matt Rose and Bryant Flete for Jose Quintana.
“My first thought was ‘get everything packed and get to my next spot,’ ’’ Cease said. “And then you start reflecting on the journey. For me, it was just ‘get to the next place.’ It took me a couple weeks or a month with the White Sox where I felt like I was in the swing of things. I’m definitely settling in here.’’
The Sox avoided having Cease, 22, face the Cubs in Mesa on Tuesday. He’ll make his first Cactus League appearance in relief Wednesday against the Rangers.
“I kind of saw it coming,’’ Cease said of the trade. “I kept getting scratched from starts so I knew something was going on.’’
Been there, doing that
If Renteria harbors ill feelings for the Cubs, who fired him after one season in 2014 in favor of Maddon, he’s not letting on. His first mention of the Cubs two days ago accompanied a broad smile.
Renteria guided the Cubs during a rebuild phase and is now doing the same in his second season on the South Side.
“It’s similar,’’ he said Tuesday of bringing along young talent on both sides of town.
“Just allow them to be who they are. At the end of the day, their skill set and the way they perform will tell us when they’re ready or not. We just have to be ready for them.’’
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