Jose Rondon

Eloy Jimenez returns from injured list, White Sox DFA Jose Rondon

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USA TODAY

Eloy Jimenez returns from injured list, White Sox DFA Jose Rondon

Eloy Jimenez is back.

The White Sox activated their rookie left fielder from the injured list ahead of Sunday's series finale against the division-rival Minnesota Twins, bringing an end to his second stay on the IL this season. Jimenez has been on the shelf since suffering an ulnar nerve contusion when he collided with center fielder Charlie Tilson in the team's July 16 game against the Kansas City Royals.

Jimenez's return will undoubtedly be a boost to an offense that has struggled mightily since the All-Star break. The White Sox are just 4-12 in the second half, with the offense averaging little more than three runs a game.

Despite a very slow start — due in part to a near month-long absence with a high ankle sprain — Jimenez returns to the White Sox with a .244/.307/.483 season slash line to go along with 17 home runs and 39 RBIs in 67 games. He's been much better since the start of June, batting .269/.341/.580 with 11 homers and 26 RBIs in 34 contests.

The White Sox also hope to get Tim Anderson back soon. The South Side shortstop is currently on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte, where he's got seven hits, including a double and a homer, in four games.

To make room on the active roster for Jimenez, the White Sox designated infielder Jose Rondon for assignment Sunday morning. After hitting a combined 24 home runs between Charlotte and the major league club last season, Rondon struggled this season. He slashed a woeful .197/.265/.282 with just three homers in 55 games.

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Not exactly a Matt Davidson moment, but Jose Rondon becomes latest position player to pitch for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Not exactly a Matt Davidson moment, but Jose Rondon becomes latest position player to pitch for White Sox

It's safe to say Jose Rondon probably doesn't have ambitions of becoming baseball's next two-way sensation.

Matt Davidson made headlines last season when he made three trips to the pitcher's mound. But instead of just being a bullpen-saving novelty — though he was that, too — Davidson raised eyebrows by repeatedly saying that he'd like to add relief pitching to his game, which to that point had consisted almost exclusively of bringing a power bat to the White Sox lineup.

Davidson's a Texas Ranger now, but Rick Renteria isn't done using position players to pitch in times when his bullpen needs saving.

Friday night, in the same game where Chris Sale shut down his former team, Renteria turned to Rondon, who, to put it mildly, looked a lot different than Davidson did during the latter's tryout of sorts in 2018. While Davidson leaned on the pitching experience of his high school days to rack up three scoreless innings over the course of the year — highlighted by a strikeout of home-run machine Giancarlo Stanton in a game against the New York Yankees — Rondon was lobbing balls to the plate, sometimes not even fast enough to register on the in-stadium radar gun at Guaranteed Rate Field.

"That's my first time," Rondon said after the White Sox loss to the visiting Boston Red Sox.

Regardless of how it looked, though, Rondon did the job while throwing what he laughingly confirmed was a screwball. He faced five batters, allowing a pair of singles but getting the other three out in a scoreless inning.

"They just were laughing," Rondon said, through team interpreter Billy Russo, of the on-field reaction to his work, "and stared at me like, 'You're really doing this?'"

Renteria made it seem like the White Sox had this planned out a bit, if the situation presented itself, admitting that the team had Rondon throw some practice pitches before Friday's game. Renteria said if the game was within a swing, he wouldn't have used a position player in the ninth inning. But with the White Sox down five, the opportunity arose, and Rondon became the latest bullpen saver.

"Listen, you never want to resort to that, but I think that under the circumstances, for us, it was just a necessary thing we needed to do," Renteria said. "Fortunately, it didn't get out of hand, it didn't get ugly. You're always concerned about things like that. But it didn't, and we were able to save a few arms today."

Certainly the White Sox bullpen has been used frequently during the season's first month-plus. Short outings from starting pitchers early in the season led to Renteria leaning on his relief corps more heavily than he would've liked. The pitching staff, in general, has been a sore spot, and as of this writing, only two teams in baseball had staff ERAs higher than the White Sox mark of 5.30.

Though Dylan Covey has been elevated to the rotation in the wake of Carlos Rodon's significant arm injury, Renteria described Sunday's plan as "almost like a bullpen day," presenting an even greater need to keep the bullpen arms fresh. As of now, Sunday's starter is to be announced.

"We have been using these guys, we've been trying to search for ways to kind of refresh them a little bit," he said. "We've been pushing them out of necessity, pretty much. Hopefully today puts us in a little better position. Obviously, it's almost like a bullpen day on Sunday, so we need as many guys available as possible. That's just where we're at."

And so, Rondon.

Will he be this year's Davidson? Or is this the last we've seen of him? Will he go out with a spotless 0.00 ERA?

"It felt good. It was fun," he said. "Definitely something I'd be willing to do again."

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Is Jose Rondon emerging as a sleeper for the White Sox?

Is Jose Rondon emerging as a sleeper for the White Sox?

Jose Rondon isn't making any prospect lists or even many future lineup projections for the White Sox, but the 24-year-old is showing some ability this season.

Rondon was acquired for cash considerations in the offseason after the Padres designated him for assignment. He made his MLB debut in 2016 with the Padres, going 3-for-25 in eight games, but has gotten more of an opportunity with the White Sox this year.

The infielder has been up and down between Triple-A and the majors this season. He has shown something in his game that wasn't really there before: power. Rondon had six home runs in 2016 and seven in 2017, but erupted with 18 home runs with Triple-A Charlotte in 80 games. That power has continued, in limited games, with the White Sox.

Rondon's homer on Wednesday was his fifth in 33 games. He is hitting .256/.318/.513. Rondon isn't much of a contact hitter and doesn't draw a ton of walks, but his ability to play multiple positions on the infield and hit for power could make him a valuable piece going forward. He likely won't supplant Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada or even Nick Madrigal down the road, but could earn a utility infield role.

His 23 combined home runs between the minors and majors place him second in the organization. Only Daniel Palka, who has 25 between Charlotte and the majors, is ahead of Rondon.