White Sox’ Eloy Jimenez feeling better than expected but won’t be rushed back

To see Eloy Jimenez running sprints, taking batting practice and dripping with sweat talking to reporters in the White Sox dugout at Guaranteed Rate Field is to know Jimenez is a fast healer.

After tearing a hamstring tendon behind his right knee while running out a ground ball May 23 in Minnesota, Jimenez said he is feeling better now than he would have expected. The Sox said the expected time away for Jimenez would be six to eight weeks, and they are holding to the same estimate, dismissing a report he’ll be back in two weeks.

There is no reason to rush the left fielder back, certainly not in May, not at risk of not doing everything possible to ensure a full recovery.

Regardless, the recovery is going well, which is good news for a lineup that ranked 28th in on-base percentage, 22nd in slugging and 19th in home runs going into four-game against the Yankees that starts Thursday night.

“Yep, everything is going well. Really good,” Jimenez said Tuesday.

“Hopefully I will be back sooner than later.”

Jimenez landed awkwardly with his left foot — right-handers usually land on first base with the right — on the back of the bag and was thought to suffer the injury on his next step. But he said the tear occurred before he hit the base.

Players hugged and consoled Jimenez in the visitors clubhouse after the game and he needed crutches to get around before surgery three days later. The surgery was similar to the one that Yasmani Grandal had last season, knocking him out for almost two months.

“That same day I was feeling good. I was walking after surgery,” Jimenez said.

“Wow, I’m really excited. Try to get more healthy, then try to help the team.”

Jimenez, who was off to a slow start (.222/.256/.333), hasn’t played more than 55 games since playing 121 his rookie season in 2019 when he won the AL Silver Slugger Award for left fielders. He missed almost four months last season after tearing his right pectoral muscle reaching above the wall at Camelback Ranch during spring training. So he’s been through the mental rigors of sitting out.

“It’s really tough every time I’m out,” Jimenez said. “And everybody knows I like to play, I enjoy it.”

In the meantime, Jimenez’ presence is felt in the clubhouse and dugout, spreading love, joy and smiles. The day after the Sox’ horrible 12-9 loss to the Guardians in 11 innings, he walked up behind manager Tony La Russa, wrapped his arms around him and rested his head on La Russa’s shoulder. For a few moments, he did not move, grin on his face.

Jimenez said he is pain free. When he plays again, he’ll play the only way he knows how.

“I’m not going to stop doing what I think I can do,” he said. “That’s not going to stop me. I’m going to keep playing hard and that’s it.”

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