CHICAGO -- Eloy Jiménez looks good, feels good and is ready to rejoin the White Sox “hopefully sooner than later,” as the left fielder told the media prior to Tuesday’s game with the Guardians at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Jiménez spoke to the media for the first time since suffering a right hamstring injury while trying to beat out a slow roller to third base leading off the second inning of a game at Target Field on April 23. That injury led to surgery to repair a torn hamstring tendon behind his right knee, although Jiménez was up and walking the same day he had that surgery.
Now he’s running and was even taking swings during early batting practice on Tuesday.
“I started to run a couple of days ago, and that is the main thing right now,” Jiménez said. “Other than that, I’m feeling pretty good. We just wanted to make sure I’m good to run and see what happens.
“When I went down, I never thought nothing bad that I could not play. I was just a little bit frustrated because I was feeling good. And then that happened. Right now, I’m feeling pretty good with the result that we have.”
In reviewing that fateful play against the Twins, Jiménez seemed to suffer the injury when hitting the back of first base with his left foot and then tumbling forward on to the field. But Jiménez clarified Tuesday the injury happened when he was running near first and before he made contact.
“So, when I felt it, I was like, ‘Oh [expletive],’” Jiménez said. “But now pretty normal. … I don’t feel anything right now. I feel good.
“It’s tough every time I’m out. For me, it’s really tough. Pretty much everybody knows I like to play, I like to enjoy. When I’m in the dugout, I’m cheering for my team but I’m feeling like, ‘Jesus, I want to play.’”
Manager Tony La Russa briefly marveled at how well Jiménez was moving as he was talking to the media prior to a game in Boston this past weekend. The White Sox projected his initial absence at 6-to-8 weeks, and while Jiménez could return sooner than that timetable, there certainly won’t be a rush.
One reporter asked Jiménez Tuesday if he could be back next month. Jiménez flashed his familiar smile and responded, “You can ask that to [general manager] Rick Hahn.”
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Jiménez continued. “But I don’t know.”
“For those of you who were in Boston, you probably saw that Eloy was actually sprinting less than two weeks post-op, which is a testament to modern medicine and our training staff and him, which is very good to see,” Hahn said. “Both he and [injured starting pitcher] Lance [Lynn] continue to progress on the timelines that we originally laid out. So that's a positive.”
This setback marks a second straight season where Jiménez missed significant time due to an injury, debuting on July 26 last season after suffering a ruptured left pectoral tendon making an ill-advised attempt to steal a home run during Spring Training. That rehab process should give him an idea of what he needs to come back in 2022, both physically and at the plate.
But he won’t change his style of play due to the injuries. Jiménez will continue to run hard. He’ll continue to have fun.
“Right now, I’m working with [hitting coach] Frank [Menechino] to get my timing back,” Jiménez said. “So, I know it’s going to be a little bit hard, but we have the opportunity to play every day so let’s see.”