MESA, Ariz. — Eloy Jimenez wasn’t going to play until Sunday, but he convinced White Sox manager Rick Renteria to get him in the game Saturday against the team that traded him away.
The result? An opposite-field, two-run homer on an 0-2 pitch from Cory Mazzoni that put the Sox ahead of the Cubs by a run in the eighth inning. The game ended in a 4-4 tie.
“I insisted,” Jimenez said, “and Ricky said, ‘You know what? Let’s do it.’ ”
Jimenez, acquired in the trade for left-hander Jose Quintana last July, hasn’t played since he had one at-bat in the Sox’ spring opener (he struck out) because of tendinitis in his left knee. A cautious Renteria said Saturday morning that Jimenez, who had asked to play against the Cubs, would have to wait. In the end, he pinch-hit.
“It was exciting, but as I’ve said before, the best is yet to come,” said Jimenez, ranked as the No. 4 prospect in baseball by Baseball America.
Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito was talking to reporters in the clubhouse when he saw Jimenez connect on TV.
“Look at him smiling over there, that ear-to-ear grin,” Giolito said. “I mean, the special talent we have. The young guys we have coming up the next couple of years, I’m excited to see what they have to offer.”
Said Cubs manager Joe Maddon: “This guy, he has a chance to hit some homers, especially there in that ballpark the way the ball goes. He could really tear it up.”