Eloy out 4-6 weeks after appendectomy

May 7th, 2023

CINCINNATI -- The White Sox were dealt a blow on Saturday as slugger underwent an appendectomy and is expected to miss four to six weeks. Replacing their cleanup hitter will be a tough task going forward, and his absence was immediately felt.

Chicago strung together eight hits in the middle game of a three-game series against the Reds, but the White Sox only had two innings with multiple hits as they fell, 5-3, at Great American Ball Park.

Already without third baseman Jake Burger (tied for the team lead with seven homers and sidelined with an oblique injury) and Yoán Moncada (rehabbing a sore lower back) Chicago’s lineup lacked its usual pop.

The White Sox did get two home runs -- from Hanser Alberto in the second and Seby Zavala in the fourth -- but both led off their respective innings and the South Siders never posted a crooked number. The team was just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, as Cincinnati native Andrew Benintendi’s third-inning RBI double was the outlier.

“It’s another hurdle for us,” outfielder Gavin Sheets said of losing Jiménez, who experienced abdominal pain after Friday’s game that intensified overnight and required a trip to the hospital on Saturday morning. “Losing his presence, it’s tough. How talented he is and the way he’s swinging the bat. But more than that, outside of baseball, it’s a scary situation. Glad we got it handled.”

Losing Jiménez would be tough at any point, but it’s especially painful considering he was having his best stretch of the season before the acute appendicitis. The 26-year-old was riding an eight-game hitting streak in which he was slashing .424/.472/.636 with two home runs.

The middle of Chicago’s lineup was starting to come together, with Luis Robert Jr. finally hitting his stride. The White Sox will be even more dependent on their center fielder now, who has reached base in 14 of his last 23 plate appearances after picking up a single, double and two HBPs on Saturday.

“[Eloy] is our four-hole hitter. He was swinging the bat really well,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “Robert now is swinging the bat really well. Today was his fourth straight game with an extra-base hit, and that ties a career high for him. So being able to have those two guys swinging the bat at the same time, with a couple of other guys, and Moncada doing his rehab, it was promising. But that’s life. There’s stuff you’ve got to deal with, and we’ve got to move on. Thank God everything came out all right.”

The White Sox have had to deal with Jiménez’s absence earlier this season when he missed nine games with a left hamstring strain. The team went 3-5 during that early-April stretch, but its lineup was also healthier than it is now.

Reinforcements should arrive before Jiménez’s expected return in June. Moncada began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte on Friday and could return from his lower back soreness soon if all goes well. Burger’s timeline related to a notoriously tricky oblique strain is more up in the air.

Until then, the White Sox have their work cut out for them to produce without leaning on their $43 million slugger.

“This is nothing new for this team to have to battle against some adversity,” said Mike Clevinger, who struck out seven while allowing four runs in six innings on Saturday. “I hope everything goes well with his procedure. I just want to see him back here. He changes our lineup, that’s for sure. But it’s next guy up around here.”