White Sox’ Eloy Jimenez heating up at plate, but Luis Robert continues to slump

“These guys are human beings,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “They’re playing a tough game. It’s tough to hit. They’re not always going to do it.”

SHARE White Sox’ Eloy Jimenez heating up at plate, but Luis Robert continues to slump
Houston Astros v Chicago White Sox

The White Sox’ Luis Robert is in a 4-for-41 slump.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A silver lining for the White Sox, who lost 4-1 on Sunday to close a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rays, is that Eloy Jimenez is beginning to hit baseballs a long way.

Heating up after a 10-day stint on the injured list because of a strained hamstring, Jimenez hit his first two home runs of the season Friday and Saturday and threw in a double in the finale that just missed being homer No. 3.

‘‘I hit it a little bit kind of weird,’’ he said, ‘‘but I hit it. I really hit it pretty good.’’

The next problem to solve is Luis Robert, who is in a 4-for-41 slump. Manager Pedro Grifol put Robert in the leadoff spot — for the third time this season and only the fourth since 2021 — a day after he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and far too many swings-and-misses at pitches out of the zone. Robert responded with a two-strike base hit against Rays starter Zach Eflin in the first inning and grounded out in his next three at-bats, at least putting the ball in play.

‘‘These guys are human beings,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘They’re playing a tough game. It’s tough to hit. They’re not always going to do it.’’

Walking back to the dugout after some strikeouts, Robert has looked like a player who is going through a difficult stretch.

‘‘That he gets down because he swings at a bad pitch or something like that during a game, I’m OK with it,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘I don’t want him coming back with a smile on his face. I don’t have a problem with his body language.’’

Grifol said he continues to believe in Robert. A dead giveaway was his use of the word ‘‘believe’’ 11 times in one answer about the 25-year-old center fielder.

‘‘I believe in these guys,’’ he said. ‘‘So that might be a fault of mine or maybe not, I don’t know. I believe in [Robert]. He’ll turn it around.’’

Santos feeling the heat

What a wonderful thing it must be to throw 103.1 mph at 23.

Sox reliever Gregory Santos doesn’t have to imagine what it’s like. The right-hander reared back and delivered the Sox’ fastest pitch of the Statcast era — going back to 2015 — Saturday against the Rays.

‘‘It feels very good,’’ he said through a translator. ‘‘When I turned to the scoreboard and saw 103, I said, ‘[Expletive], that’s good.’ ’’

Santos threw the pitch — his fastest on record — on the anniversary of his big-league debut, which came with the Giants in 2021. Later that season, he was suspended for 80 games under MLB’s drug program after testing positive for the banned substance Stanozolol, a synthetic steroid derived from testosterone.

Not only did Santos show electric stuff Saturday, but he was poised like an old pro in two scoreless innings with the score tied.

‘‘I think the main focus in those situations is to try to get the first batter out,’’ he said. ‘‘That helps. Once I do that, my thought is, ‘OK, I’ve already got this.’ ’’

A Kelly comeback?

Reliever Joe Kelly, who hasn’t pitched since April 8 because of a strained groin, might be back on the mound in Toronto.

Kelly threw a live batting-practice session Friday, touching 99 mph, according to Grifol, and using all his pitches. Grifol described Kelly’s status as ‘‘really close.’’

ON DECK

WHITE SOX AT BLUE JAYS

Monday: Lance Lynn (0-2, 7.59 ERA) vs. Chris Bassitt (2-2, 5.40), 6:07 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM.

Tuesday: Mike Clevinger (2-1, 3.26) vs. Jose Berrios (1-3, 6.23), 6:07 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM.

Wednesday: Michael Kopech (0-2, 6.97) vs. Yusei Kikuchi (3-0, 3.80), 12:07 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM.

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