MINNEAPOLIS -- Life could have been easier for Eloy Jiménez when he returned from the injured list on July 28.
His first game was against Kyle Gibson and the Twins, followed by starts against the Mets’ stingy starting trio of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler. His 1-for-16 showing after being sidelined by a right ulnar nerve contusion was not exactly unexpected.
“You think it’s easy?” said Jimenez with a laugh prior to Monday’s series opener at Target Field. “And especially because they are really good pitchers.
“They just don’t have 100 mph. They have really good stuff like sliders at 94 [mph]. That’s crazy.”
Jimenez survived that rough return and has worked through a rookie campaign dotted by injuries to win the American League Player of the Week for the period of Sept. 9-15.
During that stretch, the 22-year-old went 10-for-23 with one double, three home runs, 11 RBIs, three walks, six runs, three multi-hit efforts and a 1.370 OPS. When asked for his favorite moment of those six games, Jimenez smiled and said all of his at-bats. But he quickly narrowed it down to one at-bat on Sept. 10 against the Royals.
“My first grand slam in the big leagues, that was amazing,” Jimenez said.
Those who believe Jimenez hasn’t met lofty preseason expectations clearly haven’t looked beyond his numbers. Jimenez’s numbers are pretty darn good, with a .259/.309/.489 slash line entering Monday, with 15 doubles, 27 home runs, 69 RBIs, 60 runs scored and a .799 OPS in 112 games this season.
But the key for Jimenez is staying healthy after missing time this year due to the ulnar issue, a high right ankle sprain, hip soreness and a trip to the Bereavement List. When Jimenez is healthy and his timing is right, he’s infinitely dangerous at the plate.
“You guys can see when I’m healthy and playing every single day,” Jimenez said. “For me, the biggest thing is being healthy for next year. It’s going to be fun because I’m going to work hard. I hope God gives me the opportunity to play every single day.”
Anderson looking to complete special season
Tim Anderson was out of Monday’s lineup, but with 12 games remaining after the series opener at Target Field, the White Sox shortstop should have no issue accumulating 28 plate appearances to qualify for the American League batting title. Anderson began Monday with a .332 average, leading D.J. LeMahieu by four points and potentially topping off an amazing turnaround from a .240 showing in ’18.
“Wow. I think it's pretty cool,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said of Anderson possibly joining Hall of Famers Frank Thomas (.347 in 1997) and Luke Appling (.388 in ‘36 and .328 in ‘43) as the only White Sox to win batting titles. “You think of the path he's taken.
“Where he's at, just to be even in the top 10, the growth that has had to occur for him. It's been significant. I think it would mean a lot to him. I'm sure he's doing everything he can to continue to try to put himself there and keep himself on top."
Renteria pointed to a couple of the main reasons behind Anderson’s offensive growth.
“Using more of the middle, the other side of the diamond, the right side of the diamond,” Renteria said. “That was probably something he did more consistently as he was coming up.
“He'd use it strong, middle, the other way. He's staying on breaking balls a little bit more. And you see him literally kind of casing the field and seeing what he's going to be able to manage.”
They Said It
“It’s going to be good. But let’s wait for next year. Let’s just finish strong now and let’s see what’s going to happen next year.” -- Jiménez on the exciting outlook for 2020 and the White Sox.
“You’re awesome, big man!” -- Ken ‘Hawk’ Harrelson’s memorable call of Jim Thome’s walk-off home run 12 years ago today against the Angels’ Dustin Moseley, marking Thome’s 500th career home run. Thome is currently with the team in Minneapolis.