Latest leg flareup doesn’t necessarily mean more DH duty for White Sox’ Eloy Jimenez

MINNEAPOLIS — It would seem to make sense for the White Sox to use Eloy Jimenez as a designated hitter more than in the outfield, where he came up lame and had to leave Wednesday’s game against the Guardians with right leg soreness and might not play until after the All-Star break.

But it’s not like the Sox have a gaping hole at DH, manager Tony La Russa said.

“Especially when we get [Yasmani Grandal] back, you look at the composition of our roster, it’s pretty tough to lock up the DH spot,” said La Russa, who divides the DH spot among corner outfielders Andrew Vaughn and Gavin Sheets and first baseman Jose Abreu and will want to use Grandal, his No. 1 catcher, in that mix when Grandal returns from the injured list after the All-Star break.

If Jimenez is used exclusively as a DH, “it takes away some key options,” La Russa said. “He’s valuable enough if that’s what he had to do to stay healthy you’d do it. But … he hurt it running to first base.”

La Russa described Jimenez’ MRI as “reasonable” and showing “nothing drastic” Thursday, and he wasn’t ruling out the former Silver Slugger Award winner playing this weekend. Jimenez had to pause during minor league rehab assignment during his recovery from surgery in late April to repair a hamstring tendon, and La Russa said this latest issue is thought to be similar.

“He actually felt something like this during his rehab in Charlotte,” La Russa said. “Rested a little bit and came back OK. That’s what we’re counting on.

“We’ll see what it feels like in the next couple days, be careful with him. And a chance he might play this weekend. So far, the scan didn’t show anything drastic happening. He has discomfort. A little cramping sensation.”

In any event, when he does return it probably will be at DH initially, but with more left field to follow. Jimenez’ hamstring injury occurred while running out a ground ball, La Russa said, so it’s not like staying out of the outfield will protect him.

“I mean, he’s got to use his legs [as a DH],” La Russa said.

Jimenez, who early in Wednesday’s game slipped, tumbled backward and managed to catch a base hit on the hop while on his back, has not played well defensively and has been hurt playing left field numerous times. He tore a pectoral muscle in spring training last year and hurt his elbow colliding with center fielder Charlie Tilson and suffered a high ankle sprain colliding with the outfield wall in 2019.

Jimenez sprained his foot running the bases against the Cubs late in 2020 and was limited during the 2020 Wild Card as a result. He also hurt his ankle in the on-field celebration after Lucas Giolito no-hit the Indians in 2020 but avoided the IL.

AJ Pollock started in left field, Sheets was in right and Andrew Vaughn was the DH against the Twins Thursday, when the Sox took a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Twins starter Sonny Gray.

Uptick from Moncada

Yoan Moncada was batting .271 with 14 RBI in his last 17 games, a needed uptick after early season injury and production issues.

“He’s in a real good routine with the training room, fitness area, his process is excellent,” La Russa said. “And he’s having real good at-bats.”

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