KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The White Sox put left fielder Eloy Jimenez on the 10-day injured list with a bruised right ulnar nerve Wednesday. He suffered the injury Tuesday night when he collided with Charlie Tilson in the outfield as the two tried to track down a ball in the team’s 11-0 loss to the Royals.
Jimenez, 22, the Sox’ $43 million rookie and already one of their most dangerous hitters, will more than likely be out for more than 10 days after getting hurt attempting to make a play for the second time in 45 games. A below-average outfielder defensively, Jimenez was sidelined during his fourth week on the job and missed 3½ weeks with a high right ankle sprain after he crashed into the wall chasing a home run against the Tigers on April 26 at Guaranteed Rate Field, and this elbow injury again raises questions about whether he belongs in the outfield or as a designated hitter.
With more than enough first basemen and DH types already on the roster and in their minor-league system, the Sox are giving Jimenez every chance to prove he can play the outfield, and Jimenez is bent on improving. General manager Rick Hahn, manager Rick Renteria and outfield coach Daryl Boston continue to talk up his ability as an outfielder despite obvious limitations.
“He’s improved significantly since the beginning of the year,” Hahn said. “There is still work to be done, and he has worked extremely diligently with D-Bo in pregames for the last several months and takes his defensive improvement and the defensive task in front of him very seriously.”
Jimenez could be out two weeks, said Hahn, who was relieved that the injury wasn’t worse. Jimenez was sent to Chicago on Wednesday because he felt numbness in the arm and fingers, but he is improving and will rejoin the team this weekend when the Sox play at the Tampa Bay Rays before being re-evaluated in Chicago on Monday.
“After the Monday re-evaluation, we’ll have a better sense as to how long we’re looking at,” said Hahn, who is with the team in Kansas City for the series against the Royals. “But, preliminarily, this could well be a couple-of-weeks incident, which is good.
“He’s already feeling better. The examination today showed improvement from Tuesday night, and everyone is optimistic.”
Jimenez and Tilson ran into each other tracking Whit Merrifield’s fly ball. Both players called for it — Tilson more at the last moment, he said — and when he made his move to attempt the catch, they ran into each other with Tilson’s glove catching Jimenez’s right arm.
“Somehow he jarred the elbow, and it got bruised in the process of colliding with Tilson,” Hahn said. “I’m not sure what the mechanism was for the injury.”
At 6-4, 240 pounds, Jimenez is “a big man and his gait is a little lumbered at times, but I think he has the tools to at least be a solid average defender,” Hahn said.
Hahn said he won’t worry about Jimenez getting hurt out there, even though it has happened twice now.
“There’s inherent risk in every position,” Hahn said. “He’s still learning, so perhaps that risk is a little higher. Last night, the issue was he didn’t hear the center fielder calling for the ball. It’s a bit of a fluky thing, but something that will improve with time and as he gets more comfortable with whoever is out there with him.
“I do not think playing him out there heightens the risk of injury to him.”