October 19, 2021

White Sox OF Eloy Jimenez expected to miss 5-6 months

White Sox left fielder Eloy Jimenez will require surgery to repair a ruptured left pectoral tendon, general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday, and the recovery period is five to six months.

“Obviously, a difficult loss for us. An important part of our offense, and one that was a bit of a shock to the system,” Hahn said. “If there was one area of this team that perhaps could withstand a significant blow, it would arguably be on the offensive side of things and the run-scoring side of things.”

Hahn said Jimenez is a quick healer and left open the possibility Jimenez could return in August or September.

Jimenez hurt his shoulder going after a home run by Sean Murphy in the second inning of Wednesday’s spring training loss to Oakland. The injury happened when he reached over the fence with his glove hand.

Hahn said the rupture is an impact injury one sees more frequently on the football field. He speculated the injury happened when the arm went over the wall.

Hahn said Jimenez was in “a fair amount of pain” after the injury.

On Thursday morning, he was dejected and disappointed, Hahn said. At the same time, he is committed to his repair and rehab.

“It’s going to be very hard for him not to be around us for the next several months,” Hahn said.

Discussing the morale of the team Thursday, manager Tony La Russa said, “Our biggest concern is Eloy. He’s the guy that’s hurt. He’s the guy that’s got to go through the rehab.

“We have a great family feeling, and we’re tough enough to deal with it. And we’ve got our other strengths.”

Jimenez’s absence raises the question of who is going to fill his outfield spot. One possibility is the versatile Leury Garcia.

“Obviously, Leury has experience in the outfield,” Hahn said.

Another possibility is Adam Engel, who is recovering from a hamstring injury. Two other candidates are Nick Williams and Billy Hamilton.

“As a team, you look at what you have, not what you don’t have,” La Russa said. “We don’t have him, but we have other guys.”

One player who might approach Jimenez’s power potential is Andrew Vaughn. La Russa said he plans to start Vaughn in left field Friday against Milwaukee.

Hahn pointed out Vaughn gained left field experience in Schaumburg last year and has worked on those skills in the back fields.

La Russa said Vaughn has a couple of advantages.

“Last year, in camp [in] Schaumburg, they worked him out there, so he’s not starting from scratch,” he said. “It’s easier for an infielder to move to the outfield.”

Hahn was careful not to condemn Jimenez for leaping against the fence Wednesday.

“Fundamentally, he got hurt trying to make a play,” he said. “Was it the right decision to go for that ball, especially when put in the context of spring training? Perhaps not, but fundamentally you like the fact that he was trying to make a play.”

Ultimately, in the distant future, Hahn said, the team will talk to Jimenez about a plan for him to make better defensive decisions.

“But for now and for the immediate future, it’s going to be about getting him healthy again,” he said.

Hahn said Jimenez takes pride in being a better defender than his reputation and gets upset when he is removed late in games.

“It is certainly possible that when he sees a chance to make a spectacular play, he tries to do it to sort of address some of those concerns on some sort of level,” Hahn said.

Hahn said the team doesn’t want to take away that desire to make plays.

“At the same time, he certainly understands he’s far more valuable to us letting that ball fall in for a home run or perhaps not making a play coming in or going to a corner and staying on the field than he is on the [injured list],” Hahn said.