White Sox notes: Rick Renteria urges patience with Eloy Jimenez’s rehab

It’s possible the Sox open their series in Houston without the talented left fielder.

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Rick Renteria looks into the distance while sitting in the dugout

Rick Renteria says the Sox won’t rush back their talented left fielder.

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Whether or not it’s Monday in Houston, Eloy Jimenez will be back with the White Sox soon. But the Sox won’t be rushing him back to make up for lost time.

“He’s been down, what is it a month right now? It’s not a huge step backwards,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The reality is it’s going to be about how quickly he gets back reacclimated to all the work he’s been doing previous to going down and then continuing to adjust.”

Jimenez hasn’t played in the majors since April 26 due to a high right ankle sprain, but Sunday was his sixth game on a rehab assignment with Class AAA Charlotte. So while he hasn’t been in a big-league game in almost a month, he won’t be returning to the Sox completely dry.

“It’s the games that are going to give him the experience and the things he needs to do in order to improve in different aspects, whether it’s hitting or on the bases or in the outfield,” Renteria said. “It’s the game action that will continue to be the test to see if the work that’s being done is actually bearing fruit.”

When Jimenez comes back, he could see some time as the designated hitter, and he probably will get some occasional rest. But the work on his baserunning and fielding will continue, though he’ll have to be honest about how he’s feeling.

“Everything that you do requires fitness and health, and in order for him to continue to improve he’s got to be able to give the effort that’s necessary to improve certain skill sets,” Renteria said.

Jimenez was not in Charlotte’s starting lineup Sunday.

Special Leury

The Sox ask a lot of Leury Garcia. Sunday was his 37th game leading off, and he’s made appearances in center field, left field, right field, shortstop and second base.

That doesn’t mean Garcia needs to prepare differently than other players. In fact, Renteria said Garcia not needing to do anything out of the ordinary shows he’s “kind of special.”

“He’s kind of an easygoing guy that has a whole lot of confidence in everything he does in between the lines,” Renteria said. “He works extremely hard pregame on fly balls and ground balls, and things of that nature. But he’s a natural. That’s as easy as I can put it. 

“He’s a natural and can transition from one position to another as easily as I’ve ever seen anybody do.”

Monday’s starter is…

Renteria said the Sox still didn’t know who would start Monday in Houston. It’s possible Sunday’s game, the weather and bullpen usage could impact who throws first against the Astros, or if a move is necessary.

“But right now, it’s still up in the air,” Renteria said.

What the knuckle?

Charlie Tilson said he had faced a knuckleballer in the 2015 Arizona Fall League before seeing Toronto left-hander Ryan Feierabend on Saturday. Though he couldn’t remember who it was, it might have been Mickey Jannis, then a prospect with the Mets.

“I feel like I’ve had the most success just trying to stay on the fastball and treat it like any other offspeed pitch,” Tilson said. “If I happen to see it up in the zone, take a good swing at it.”

Tilson went 1 for 2 against Feierabend with an RBI single in the second.

Minor move?

The Sox signed veteran right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne to a minor-league contract and assigned him to Charlotte. Despaigne, 32, split last season between the Marlins and Angels and had a 6.69 ERA in 19 appearances.

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