Eloy Jimenez proving to be detriment to Chicago White Sox
When the Chicago White Sox signed outfielder Andrew Benintendi to a five-year deal earlier this offseason, it appeared that the team had a clear vision in mind for their outfield picture entering the 2023 season. Benintendi would serve as the team’s left fielder with Luis Robert in center field and prospect Oscar Colas getting the opportunity in right field. Eloy Jimenez, as a way to protect his bat in the White Sox lineup, would serve primarily as the team’s designated hitter.
The issue is that the plan may not have been shared with Jimenez. While speaking with reporters on Monday, Jimenez, who has been open about his preference to remain in the outfield, spoke against the idea of being the team’s primary designated hitter in 2023.
“Last year, when I was DH’ing more than [playing] the outfield, it was because I got surgery. And I understand that,” he said. “But this year, I’ve been working really hard to play the outfield more than DH. So I don’t really think that I’m going to accept it, because if I’m working hard, I’m going to get better, and I want to play in the outfield.”
–Eloy Jimenez via ESPN
After only appearing in 55 games with the White Sox in 2021, Jimenez once again failed to eclipse the 100 games played marked in 2022 as injuries limited him to 84 games. Not only is Jimenez playing in the outfield a liability to the White Sox but despite what general manager Rick Hahn wants fans to believe, the 28-year-old former top prospect is injury prone. The flat-out refusal to accept a designated hitter role shows that Jimenez is valuing his own priorities ahead of the team.
Time is quickly approaching for the White Sox to take off the kid gloves when handling Jimenez. Jimenez is in the prime of his career but has failed to reach his true potential. The “Hi, Mom” act can only last so long for a player that missed more games than he has played over the course of the past two seasons.
One of the priorities for new White Sox manager Pedro Grifol has been a clear line of communication with players so that the message is clear. The message is falling on deaf ears with Jimenez. Jose Abreu is not walking through the door at the White Sox facility next month when the team reports to Spring Training. Grifol will need to ensure that his voice and the White Sox’s goals are being clearly communicated to the players. If Jimenez can not accept the role that the White Sox have carved out for him, then there will need to be honest conversations about the future that he has with the team.