White Sox’ Eloy Jimenez lands on 10-day injured list

The club recalled infielder Jake Burger from Triple-A Charlotte.

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The White Sox placed Eloy Jimenez on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday.

The White Sox placed Eloy Jimenez on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday.

Colin E. Braley/AP

Eloy Jimenez came to spring training 30 pounds lighter, having trained in the offseason with a determined intent to stay healthy, only to get hurt again during the White Sox’ home opener.

Jimenez landed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday morning with a low-grade left hamstring strain, which is expected to keep the Sox’ cleanup hitter sidelined for two to three weeks. He was hurt running from first to third in the seventh inning of the Sox’ 12-3 loss to the Giants on Monday.

As injury-plagued as Jimenez’s career has been, the Sox’ announcement came as a surprise. Followed by a collective “here we go again.”

The issue wasn’t all that noticeable at the time, and Jimenez was prepared to take another at-bat, so it did not seem severe Monday. He won’t be taking any at-bats for a while, but manager Pedro Grifol was encouraged with how Jimenez looked and felt when he came to Guaranteed Rate Field on Wednesday morning.

“[Jimenez] worked hard this offseason; he put the work in; he put the time in,” Grifol said. “He’s in great shape. It’s just one of those things that happens, unfortunately. But the good thing is today he came in and he felt strong.”

It’s just one of those things that happens to Jimenez too frequently.

“It’s hard to replace Eloy,” Grifol said. “Eloy’s a big, big part of our lineup.”

And having to replace him again raises concerns about whether the six-year, $43 million deal the Sox handed him before the 2019 season, before he entered his arbitration and free-agency years, will pay off in the long run.

The Sox, who were off Tuesday, recalled infielder Jake Burger from Triple-A Charlotte. Left-handed-hitting Gavin Sheets drove in three runs with two singles from the designated-hitter spot Jimenez should be expected to man most of the time, and Burger will get at-bats, especially against left-handers.

“We make a pretty good player together,” Sheets said.

But not with Jimenez’s ceiling. The injury, however, is yet another setback for a player who had surgery to repair a torn right hamstring last April and was limited to 84 games. He missed almost the first four months of the 2021 season with a pectoral tear suffered during spring training and has been sidelined with various other injuries throughout his major- and minor-league career, some suffered while playing the outfield.

When healthy, Jimenez, 26, can be a force. He homered 31 times and knocked in 79 runs in 122 games in 2019, finishing fourth in the voting for American League Rookie of the Year. He hit .296 with 14 home runs and 41 RBI in 55 games in the abbreviated 2020 season, winning a Silver Slugger award and showing why the Sox viewed him as a centerpiece to their rebuild.

Injuries limiting Jimenez, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Luis Robert, Lance Lynn and Garrett Crochet pockmarked a 2022 season that saw the Sox finish a disappointing 81-81. The hiring of sports performance senior director Geoff Head in the offseason underscored the organization’s heightened focus on better health.

“At some point, somebody is going to pull a hamstring,” general manager Rick Hahn said Monday. “However, the work that our performance group has done — the communication, the investment we’ve made in human capital and technology — has helped put us in position to maximize their performance. We have another seven months ahead of us, so I’m not going to do a victory lap. But, so far, people are working hard, and guys are in the right position.”

Significant injuries were avoided in spring training, but it didn’t take long.

“It’s just one of those things, man,” Grifol said. “Going first to third, he felt it and here we are. That’s it.”

Grifol said Jimenez’s work in the offseason should bode well for his recovery.

“The harder you work in the offseason, the better you’re prepared to withstand something like this,” he said.

Fingers are crossed. Once again.

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