All things considered, it’s pretty good news on the outfield injury front for the White Sox.
Left fielder Eloy Jimenez went down first, rupturing his left pectoral tendon late in spring training. He had surgery on March 31 and is expected to miss 5-6 months.
Center fielder Luis Robert joined Jimenez on the IL after sustaining a Grade 3 right hip flexor strain on May 2. He’s not having surgery and is ticketed to miss 3-4 months.
Those are two bad injuries to two of the Sox’s best players, but there is hope down the road.
Jose Abreu has kept in touch with Jimenez and has no doubt he’ll be slugging again during the stretch run.
“We’ve been talking and he’s in a good place,” Abreu said through a translator. “In these difficult times when you need to back them and support them, that’s what I’m all about, with him and with Luis.
“I think Eloy is progressing, he’s feeling much better. He’s in a good mood, a positive vibe and he has big faith that he’s going to come back this season. He has to do that because I’m betting on him.”
Robert was scheduled to miss the same amount of time whether he had surgery or not, and the Sox announced he’ll let the hip injury heal on its own.
That’s good news, and as manager Tony La Russa obviously said: “If you can avoid surgery, that’s a plus.”
So looking ahead, let’s say the White Sox get Robert back in August and Jimenez returns in September. That’s a formidable one-two punch for a team that still should have the playoffs in sight.
For now, rookie Andrew Vaughn is holding down left field just fine, and he figures to improve as the year progresses.
Center field is a much bigger concern.
Leury Garcia and Billy Hamilton have been splitting time replacing Robert but the Sox are undoubtedly looking to upgrade the position.
Garcia is a solid utility player, but he’s off to a slow start and is not the full-time answer in center.
Hamilton is off to an even worse start, and he’s in danger of being shipped to the minor leagues or released.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is exploring trade options, and acquiring an outfielder like Charlie Blackmon would be a definite upgrade, assuming the Rockies pick up a sizable portion of his remaining salary.
Kris Bryant’s name has also been mentioned, and the Cubs’ natural third baseman has played four games in center field this year. In Saturday’s win against the Pirates, Bryant played center and left.
With the trade deadline almost three months away, this is a tough time to swing major deals.
Making it even tougher are the tightly bunched standings. The Tigers and Rockies are pretty much out of it, but every other team can make a case for keeping the roster intact for now and push for the postseason.
“The nature of how we’re all wired here, there’s always this inclination to try to fix it, to solve the problem, to find the right answer outside if you don’t feel like you have it internally,” Hahn said. “So that’s going to continue to gnaw at all of us who are charged with trying to put the best roster we possibly can out there. We’re going to start with some of the internal options we have here as we continue to evaluate what else potentially could be available to us.
“We’re still early in the this season, it’s not exactly the time where you see potentially impactful players changing teams, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to at least explore what is potentially out there and evaluate it.”
The next internal option is likely Brian Goodwin, who the Sox just signed and sent to Class AAA Charlotte.
Goodwin had a decent year (.262, 17 home runs, 47) with the Angels in 2019, and maybe he can help the White Sox until Robert is ready to return.
If not, Hahn has plenty of time to explore other outside candidates.
DailyHerald.com > Top News