Jimenez will need surgery to repair the injury, putting his season in jeopardy. General manager Rick Hahn said the team will know more as he begins his rehab.
It’s obviously a tough loss for us, a key part of our offense, and it shakes up the system a little bit, Hahn said Thursday in a video conference, a day after Jimenez was injured.
At the same time, if there’s one area of the team that’s likely to take a hit, it’s probably the offensive side.
Even before the injury was determined, it immediately led to a new round of questions about whether Jimenez might be better suited for the designated hitter position rather than left field – where he has been injured a few times since his major league debut in 2019.
Our main concern is Eloy. He’s the one who got hurt. He’s the one who needs to go to rehab, manager Tony La Russa said.
As a team, you look at what you have, not what you don’t. We don’t have him, but we have other guys. It won’t be an open space. Someone will play it.
Chicago is looking for a deep postseason after making the playoffs last year for the first time since 2008. He has one of the best squads in baseball with Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu (AL MVP) and Yoan Moncada, but Jimenez’s long-term absence deprives the team of one of its most dangerous hitters.
Jimenez, 24, who throws and hits as a right-handed pitcher, was acquired in a trade with the Crosstown Cubs in July 2017. In 2019, his first year in the majors, he hit 31 home runs. He hit .296 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs in 55 games during a season shortened by a pandemic.
Jimenez was injured trying to reach the wall after a solo homer by Sean Murphy in the second inning of the spring game for Oakland. Jimenez’s left arm barely moved as he left the field with the trainer.
He got hurt trying to play, Hahn said. Was the decision to use this ball the right one, especially in the context of spring training? Maybe not, but you like what he was trying to do with the game.
At some point in the distant future, we will talk to him and discuss a plan to maybe make better decisions or what we want him to do defensively.
Asked directly about his confidence in keeping Jimenez as a left back, Hahn said his current goal is to keep him healthy.
Leury Garcia, Adam Engel, Nick Williams and Billy Hamilton are among Jimenez’s possible replacements on the left side. Engel is expected to start the season on the injured list with a sprained right hamstring, but could return in April.
The most intriguing option could be Andrew Vaughn, the first baseman selected by the White Sox with the No. 3 pick in the 2019 amateur draft. Vaughn, who has yet to make his major league debut, worked in the team’s infield last summer and also assisted on field goals during spring training.
You’ll see him as much as possible in the last few [practice] games, La Russa said.
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