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Eloy Jimenez exits White Sox game with groin tightness

Jimenez played his third game after coming back from a pectoral muscle tear suffered during spring training.

Eloy Jimenez during a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Monday, July 26, 2021. (AP)
AP Photos

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It took Eloy Jimenez three games to get hurt again. The White Sox slugger, who played his first game Monday after coming back from a torn pectoral muscle suffered during spring training, was removed late from Wednesday’s game with tightness in his right groin.

It wasn’t immediately clear when Jimenez, whose young career has been checkered by injuries, was hurt. Gavin Sheets pinch-hit for him in the ninth inning.

“He felt a little something running [on his third at-bat],’’ manager Tony La Russa said. ‘‘We didn’t want to take any chances. We’ll see how he’s feeling tomorrow.

“I hope it’s just some tightness we can treat and get rid of.”

Jimenez was at designated hitter for the second time after playing left field Tuesday, when he slugged a three-run, go-ahead home run in a 5-3 victory. Not known for his defense, Jimenez made three good plays, but La Russa used him at DH to protect his legs.

“It’s what we were concerned about,” La Russa said. “He’s hitting balls in the hole, running hard and playing defense.”

Jimenez was 0-for-3 Wednesday.

Keeping starters fresh

With an 8½-game lead in the American League Central, the Sox have the luxury of giving their rotation of Lance Lynn, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel and Dylan Cease extra days of rest. Of particular concern are Rodon, who never has pitched more than 165 innings and worked only 4213 innings over the previous two seasons, and Cease, who maxed out at 14113 innings between the majors and minors in 2019.

Rodon’s velocity was down in his last start. Cease told the Chicago Sun-Times over the weekend that he feels strong but acknowledged he’s five or six starts from uncharted territory. It’s his turn Sunday, but the Sox haven’t listed a starter yet, even with a day off Monday.

“Everyone is feeling good,” La Russa said. “The key is we want them to continue feeling good.”

General manager Rick Hahn said this month that “how best to maximize the opportunity for potential rest for some of these guys and to have the matchups we need for the second half” would be looked at, especially in the wake of a 60-game season in 2020.

“August is a test,” La Russa said. “We just want to be creative and maintain fresh, healthy arms however possible.”

Second-base market shrinks

The second-base market shrunk by one when the Diamondbacks sent Eduardo Escobar to the Brewers for two prospects.

The Sox are thought to be in the market for bullpen help and perhaps a second baseman as the Friday trade deadline (3 p.m.) approaches. Escobar, 32, was on their radar and two weeks ago was reportedly on his way to the South Side, but now they might be looking closer at Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, who would have to play second if acquired with Tim Anderson entrenched at shortstop.

The Brewers reportedly will pick up the remaining portion ($2.8 million) of Escobar’s salary. They didn’t give up much, parting with catcher Cooper Hummel and 18-year-old infielder Alberto Ciprian, neither of whom was in their top-30 rankings, per MLB Pipeline. Ciprian is playing in the Dominican Summer League.

What should be working in the Sox’ favor in any deal for a position “rental” player such as Story, whose contract expires after the season, is a buyer’s market for position players. Teams are pursuing pitching with more verve.

That would include the Sox, who arguably need bullpen help more than they need a second baseman.

“If the front office decides there’s something, then they will make a move, and we’ll embrace it,” La Russa said. “If they don’t, we go with what we’ve got.”