Entering the 2021 season, the White Sox lineup figured to be very deep and loaded with power. That depth will be tested right from the beginning of the season after news broke Thursday that left fielder Eloy Jimenez suffered a torn left pectoral tendon in Wednesday’s Spring Training game in Arizona.
Surgery will be required to repair the injury, and the recovery time will be 5-6 months. That means the earliest he could be back is August, but more likely we’ll see him back in September, barring any setbacks.
It’s obviously a blow to the Sox lineup, as Jimenez is one of the big bats in the middle of the order, as he was expected to drive in runs at a high rate. The good news is, he’s still young, at 24 years of age, so the hope is he heals quickly after surgery and rehab.
He suffered the injury trying to rob a home run at the left field wall on Wednesday against the Oakland A’s. It’s not the first time Jimenez has been injured trying to make a play in the outfield.
In 2019, he missed about 3 weeks with a high ankle sprain after colliding with the left field wall. He also was injured last June 26th, trying to rob a Jake Cave grand slam at home, and he missed two games with a shoulder injury.
His defensive issues are well-documented, and he had spent plenty of time this spring working with Daryl Boston on his defense. Boston had been impressed with the improvement he has seen, but he still has a ways to go.
Offensively, that’s not the case. He’s already established himself as one of the American League’s top hitters, and he won the Silver Slugger Award for AL left fielders in 2020.
Now, Tony LaRussa has to figure out who to put in left field. Adam Engel is the most likely option, but he is dealing with a hamstring issue. Leury Garcia is also an option, but he hasn’t shown the pop with the bat tha Engel has this spring. The Sox also announced that they’ll give rookie Andrew Vaughn a look in left Friday against the Brewers. Recently-acquired Billy Hamilton could also fill in there as well.
Don’t expect the Sox to look outside the organization to fill this new need. Expect to see lots of Adam Engel in LF once he’s healthy.