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Mission accomplished: Eloy Jimenez becomes third White Sox rookie to hit 30 home runs

Before he made his major-league debut this season, Jimenez set a goal for himself: He wanted to hit 30 homers.

Eloy Jimenez hit his 30th home run this season on Sunday.
AP Photos

DETROIT — Before he made his major-league debut this season, White Sox left fielder Eloy Jimenez set a goal for himself: He wanted to hit 30 home runs.

On Sunday, Jimenez accomplished the goal when he hit a 424-foot bomb over the left-center-field wall in the first inning at Comerica Park. That homer put Jimenez in good company. He joined Jose Abreu (36 in 2014) and Ron Kittle (35 in 1983) as the only Sox players to hit 30 or more homers in their rookie seasons.

‘‘It means a lot,’’ Jimenez said after the Sox’ 6-3 loss to the Tigers. ‘‘As a rookie, you just want to be in the [record] book, and today I made it. And I feel really happy for that.’’

Jimenez missed almost two weeks with a bruised nerve in July. It was his second injury this season, the first being a high ankle sprain that kept him out for three weeks in April and May.

When he returned from the injured list in July, he was concerned it might take him some time to get his timing back. Since then, however, Jimenez has been electric. The weekend series against the Tigers was proof of that.

On Friday, he hit his second career grand slam in the Sox’ 10-1 blowout. In total, he went 6-for-14 with six RBI in the series.

‘‘I feel really good,’’ said Jimenez, who leads the majors with 23 RBI this month. ‘‘I feel like I’m back.’’

The way Jimenez has been able to produce down the stretch offers hope for what’s to come for the Sox.

‘‘The young man had an injury and a few setbacks during the course of the season,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘Fantastic to see him continue to bloom. We’re really looking forward to the possibilities of what he’s going to ultimately settle down into becoming. It’s a good start.’’

The pressures that come with being a top prospect are difficult. But Jimenez, whom the Sox acquired with right-hander Dylan Cease in a trade with the Cubs for left-hander Jose Quintana in July 2017, has handled his first major-league season with poise. He never has lost his confidence and trust in himself.

‘‘I don’t try to think about that too much,’’ he said. ‘‘I just try to enjoy what I do and go out and play hard.’’

Jimenez still has plenty of room to grow before he reaches his full potential, especially in the outfield. In the third inning Sunday, he misplayed a fly ball near the left-field fence.

But Jimenez’s success at the plate in September is giving Renteria reason for optimism for 2020.

‘‘I hope he’s hitting 50 homers a year [from now], and I hope his batting average goes up,’’ Renteria said.

Whoa, 50 homers? That’s a lofty goal, considering no Sox player has reached that number in a single season. The closest anyone has come was Albert Belle, who hit 49 in 1998.

Does Jimenez think he can do it?

‘‘Maybe next year,’’ he said.

Jimenez has started to develop into the player the Sox hoped he would be, but they will need him to continue to progress this offseason. His health will be a key to his future.

‘‘[I’m going to] finish [the season] strong and keep putting [up] numbers,’’ he said.