MINNEAPOLIS — It would seem to make sense for the White Sox to use Eloy Jimenez as a designated hitter more than in the outfield — where he came up lame Wednesday and had to leave the game against the Guardians with soreness in his right hamstring and might not play until after the All-Star break.
But it’s not like the Sox have a gaping hole at DH, manager Tony La Russa said.
“Especially when we get [Yasmani Grandal] back, you look at the composition of our roster, it’s pretty tough to lock up the DH spot,” said La Russa, who divides the DH spot among corner outfielders Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets and first baseman Jose Abreu and will want to use Grandal, his No. 1 catcher, in that mix when he returns from the injured list after the All-Star break.
If Jimenez is used exclusively as a DH, “it takes away some key options,” La Russa said. “He’s valuable enough that if that’s what he had to do to stay healthy, you’d do it.”
La Russa described Jimenez’s MRI exam as “reasonable” and showing “nothing drastic” Thursday, and he wasn’t ruling out Jimenez playing this weekend. Jimenez had to pause his minor-league rehab assignment during his recovery from surgery in late April to repair a hamstring tendon, and La Russa said this latest issue with soreness is thought to be similar.
“He actually felt something like this during his rehab in Charlotte,” La Russa said. “Rested a little bit and came back OK. That’s what we’re counting on.
“We’ll see what it feels like in the next couple of days, be careful with him. And there’s a chance he might play this weekend. So far, the scan didn’t show anything drastic happening. He has discomfort, a little cramping sensation.”
In any event, when he does return, it probably will be at DH initially, with left field to follow. Jimenez’s hamstring injury occurred while running out a ground ball, La Russa said, so it’s not like staying out of the outfield will protect him.
“I mean, he’s got to use his legs [as a DH],” La Russa said.
Jimenez, who early in the game Wednesday slipped, tumbled backward and caught a base hit on the hop while on his back, has not played well defensively and has been hurt in left field numerous times. He tore a pectoral muscle in spring training last year and hurt his elbow colliding with center fielder Charlie Tilson and suffered a high ankle sprain running into the outfield wall in 2019.
He sprained his foot running the bases against the Cubs late in 2020 and was limited during the 2020 wild-card series as a result. He also hurt his ankle in the on-field celebration after Lucas Giolito no-hit Cleveland in 2020 but avoided the injured list.
AJ Pollock started in left field, Sheets was in right and Vaughn was the DH on Thursday against the Twins.
Uptick from Moncada
Yoan Moncada was batting .271 with 14 RBI in his previous 17 games, a needed uptick after early-season injury and production issues.
“He’s in a real good routine with the training room, fitness area; his process is excellent,” La Russa said. “And he’s having real good at-bats.”