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White Sox’ Eloy Jimenez takes a knee, honors late grandfather

GLENDALE, Ariz. — White Sox top prospect Eloy Jimenez takes a knee and bows his head in the on-deck circle before his first at-bat of each game, a tribute to his grandfather, Martin Guerrero, who passed away in 2017.

“I started doing it when my grandpa died,” Jimenez said. “I was really close to him.”

Jimenez, the No. 3-ranked prospect in baseball who will likely make his Sox debut in late April, has been off to a slow start at the plate this spring, but he connected on an opposite field home run against the Padres Tuesday, his first of the spring.

“I feel better now,” Jimenez said. “The timing is better.”

But Jimenez, 22, is 3-for-20 this spring with seven strikeouts after going 0-for-3 Thursday. Renteria, who batted him fourth in the team’s Cactus League opener against the Dodgers, has since moved him down. He batted seventh against the Brewers Thursday.

Reminded that he also made a diving catch moving to his right in left field, Jimenez smiled and said, “Thank you, thank you.”

The 6-4 Jimenez appeared to be ready for the majors last season — he combined to hit .337/.384/.577 with 28 doubles, three triples and 22 homers between Class AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte but did not get a call-up, in all improve his defense, which did in fact need work

“I’ve been working hard on my defense,” Jimenez said, “and now it’s paying me back.”