ELOY: I’LL BE ALL RIGHT IN LEFT
Jimenez puts mistake against Brewers behind him; Sox blank Indians to open series
The White Sox still expect Eloy Jimenez to become a reliable left fielder. But if he doesn’t, the Sox will have to figure something out.
“I’m expecting that over time Eloy will fall into a good category on the defensive side, and if he doesn’t, we’ll find ways to continue to augment his playing time out there,” manager Rick Renteria said before the Sox’ 2-0 victory Friday against the Indians. “We’re going to continue to work. Unfortunately, it’s a really short window of time we have this year. But we’re going to continue to do what we can and try to help him become the best outfielder he possibly can be.”
Beyond Jimenez handling his three chances, this victory was a mixed bag for the Sox.
Dylan Cease (2-1) threw five scoreless innings despite walking five, including four to start innings. Adam Engel homered in the eighth, and the win snapped a two-game skid.
“I can’t expect those kind of results if I’m going to have that many baserunners all the time,” Cease said. “Fortunately, we were able to get out of here with a [win], but it’s not something that’s going to be sustainable, so I have to do a better job of getting ahead.”
The bad news came when Aaron Bummer left in the seventh with a sore left biceps. He will be re-evaluated Saturday.
“Hopefully there’s no extended period of time,” said Renteria, who revealed that Matt Foster would start Saturday. “But we’re going to be careful with him.”
Meanwhile, one uneventful night won’t stop the questions about Jimenez’s ability in left field, which grew louder after Thursday’s loss to Milwaukee when he misplayed a fly ball hit by Christian Yelich into an inside-the-park homer, falling into the netting in the process.
Issues with walls have been a theme of Jimenez’s time in the big leagues. It already has cost him time out of the lineup, and obviously it’s a concern.
Jimenez said he’s “not really” worried about getting hurt in the outfield.
“I’m just trying to go play hard,” Jimenez said. “If you see when I got hurt in the outfield, it was because I tried to do my best and was just playing hard. So I don’t care if I get hurt in the outfield.”
His employers might care a little bit, though Renteria said he wasn’t concerned about Jimenez hurting himself. For now, Renteria is hoping that Jimenez’s work will pay off, allowing him to remain in left.
Jimenez said he has made a lot of progress since coming up to the big leagues to begin last season. He’s trying to be one of the best outfielders in baseball, not just one of the best hitters, and craves being a complete player.
“It motivated me a lot because people don’t think I can play defense,” Jimenez said. “For me, it’s a challenge, and I know I can play. So it is something that I want to do for myself first and the people talking. And just go out and put some work [in] and play hard.”
Unfortunately for Jimenez, the miscue Thursday won’t help that perception. Renteria bemoaned the fact that more isn’t said about the nice plays he makes, and he said he notices the routes Jimenez takes to the ball.
“He always walks by, and I always tell him nine innings because he doesn’t like coming out,” Renteria said. “He wants to prove to everybody that he can play that outfield position very, very well. He’s a driven kid. Time will tell us, and hopefully we make the right decision with him.” ✶
Eloy Jimenez, who has had some issues in left field, went 0-for-3 on Friday night against the Cleveland Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Sox starter Dylan Cease threw five scoreless innings but walked five Indians.