Baseball

2021 White Sox: Eloy Jiménez And The Hole In Left Field

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“There’s always next year,” I muttered last night as I watched highlights of Eloy Jiménez chase down a home run ball that he had no business going after. A little overdramatic on my end, but I’m used to the teams I love causing me pain. Rick Hahn held a press conference announcing that Jiménez will have surgery for a ruptured pectoral tendon and will miss five to six months. So where do the 2021 White Sox go from here for the next six months? 

2021 White Sox: Riddled With Injury

The White Sox didn’t even have a week to recover from the news about Adam Engel’s strained right hamstring, putting him out for a few weeks. And before that? José Abreu was delayed due to COVID-19 protocols. Followed by Yasmani Grandal primarily serving as the DH while dealing with knee inflammation. Injuries happen to every team yet it never seems to be as debilitating for other teams because they have the depth. Something the White Sox front office refused to address in the offseason. 

The White Sox front office makes it seem as though they are NOT going after anyone else and will start Andrew Vaughn in left field in tomorrow’s game against Milwaukee. “We’ve had some conversations about the potential of Andrew Vaughn playing some left field, as well,” Hahn said. “He did get some experience doing that in Schaumburg last year during the alternate-site process. He has been getting a little experience on the backfields in some early work and drills. It’s a possibility. It’s not one I would necessarily etch in stone, but with talking about the internal options, his name potentially belongs on that list, as well.”

“They worked him out (at the alternate site), so he’s not starting from scratch,” Tony La Russa said. “When you’re an infielder, it’s easier for an infielder to move to the outfield. You get used to dealing with jumps, reading the ball off the bat. You go back in the outfield, you have more time to react.

“I’m not saying it’s easy to play the outfield, but he has all those things working for him. Plus, he’s a tough guy. There’s an opportunity for him to get at-bats, so I feel really good about his chances to be very productive.”

Adam Engel will also be back in a few weeks and has shown that he’s more than capable in right field, so perhaps he’ll make the move to left field. Utilityman Leury García could easily fill in. There are also talks of Billy Hamilton and Nick Williams

This Could’ve Been Avoided

Jiménez is not exactly known for his skills in left field. His poor instincts as an outfielder compelled him to chase a ball a better left fielder would have realized wasn’t worth chasing. He also seems to find every wall or netting or finds himself being outplayed by center-fielder Luis Robert. Jiménez would make an excellent DH, and yes, I realize I just made the case for Andrew Vaughn earlier this week.

But this is not only his fault. At some point, this falls on the management. Why did the front office spend so much money on the bullpen instead of fixing the holes in the outfield? Why didn’t anyone have a chat with him after the first incident of a wall collision? It seems like the organization will leave these questions unanswered and continue with the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” method. Meanwhile, Yoenis Céspedes is still a free agent and could help the White Sox fix their very real problem and two Céspedes’ are better than one. 

I think fans have a right to be frustrated/upset or any other not-so-great feeling. I have to tell myself that the team will be fine in the long run. I remember what was believed to be a season-ending injury for the other Chicago baseball team with Kyle Schwarber in 2016. Yet, he was back for the playoffs and they won the World Series. I choose to be frustrated but optimistic. Jiménez will heal, learn from his mistakes, and come back stronger than ever for that September pennant chase. 

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Chrystal is a lifelong baseball fan that spends her time between Indianapolis and Chicago.