MINNEAPOLIS — White Sox rookie left fielder Eloy Jimenez entered Monday with 22 homers, including two in his previous two games and three in his last five. The power is clearly there, but the average is not.
Jimenez, who batted .337 with 22 homers over 108 games between Class AAA Charlotte and Class AA Birmingham last season, was batting .243.
“This is part of the process — what’s coming in the future,” he said.
Pitchers have worked Jimenez carefully, and he’s not getting a lot to hit. According to Statcast, he has seen the lowest percentage of pitches (20.8) in the heart of the strike zone among American League hitters. The Yankees’ Gary Sanchez is next at 20.9 percent, followed by the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at 21.6.
“It’s something I kind of expected because at every level I play, it’s almost the same how they pitch me: a lot of breaking balls,” Jimenez said. “But here, it’s way different, because minor leagues are not the same. Not the same type of pitches at the big-league level.”
Manager Rick Renteria said the 6-4 Jimenez will eventually have to rise up and come out of the crouch in his stance.
“He’s starting to understand how they work different areas of the plate,” Renteria said. “Especially in today’s game, where they’re working elevated zones, you have to be able to get to the top of it.”
Moncada likely back Thursday
Renteria had been indicating that third baseman Yoan Moncada might complete his rehab assignment at Charlotte in time to return during this series against the Twins. But he said Monday that a Thursday return — when the Sox open their next homestand — is more likely.
Moncada, who has missed three weeks since straining his right hamstring July 30, was slated to play in back-to-back games in the field for the first time Monday and Tuesday. He hit a solo home run Monday — his second homer in two nights.
“Hopefully everything goes well,” Renteria said. “If it does, he probably gets a day off [Wednesday], and maybe we get him when we get back home. But everything has to go well.”
Collins warms up at Charlotte
Zack Collins, who’s been a catcher, first baseman and designated hitter for Charlotte, was named International League Batter of the Week after hitting .458 with four homers, three doubles, nine RBI and eight runs scored in seven games.
Collins was 2-for-26 (.077/.226/.192) with 14 strikeouts in nine games with the Sox in June and July during a three-week introduction to the majors, which the Sox treated as an internship under catcher James McCann. Renteria said Collins simply needs to be more aggressive in the strike zone.
“Taking pitches just for the sake of taking pitches is not a formula for success,” Renteria said. “The approach that you have to take is strike-to-ball, as opposed to ball-to-strike. If you’re trying to wait to recognize a strike, it’s a little tough. You have to be ready to strike and recognize and check your swing for balls that are not manageable. He understood that and took it to heart.”
Through Sunday, Collins was batting .296 with 16 homers, 19 doubles and 68 RBI in 77 games for the Knights. A September call-up is a good possibility for the 10th overall pick in the 2016 draft.
The Sox’ 12th spring training season at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona, opens next Feb. 22 against the Angels and closes March 22 against the Diamondbacks. The Cubs visit March 13, while the Sox play the Cubs at Sloan Park in Mesa on March 6.