White Sox

From the Dominican Republic to the doorstep of the majors, Eloy Jimenez's dreams are coming true

From the Dominican Republic to the doorstep of the majors, Eloy Jimenez's dreams are coming true

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Eleven years ago, a young boy named Eloy Jimenez visited the United States for the very first time.

Playing on a traveling baseball team in Santo Domingo, he boarded a plane with his teammates from the Dominican Republic and headed to a faraway city almost 2,000 miles to the north.

The destination was Chicago.

Flying over the vast metropolis, the 11-year-old Jimenez gazed out the airplane window, surveyed the massive skyline and something hit him.

He saw his future.

“One day I’m going to be here. That was the first thing in my mind. I don’t know why I think that, but it was one of my dreams,” Jimenez said in an interview on the White Sox Talk Podcast.

Most kids his age might see a city that big and be frightened by the enormity of it. Not Eloy.

“It was one of my dreams to come to Chicago because Sammy Sosa played in Chicago. Jim Thome and Frank Thomas played in Chicago,” Jimenez explained.

When Jimenez was 14, he watched Thome hit his 600th career home run on television. As Thome rounded the bases for that milestone homer, Jimenez envisioned another player doing the same in the future.  

“I remember I was a little kid, and I said, ‘Wow, that’s special for him,’” Jimenez recalled. “I said, ‘One day it could be special for me, too.‘’’

Soon after the White Sox acquired Jimenez from the Cubs in 2017, one of the first White Sox representatives Jimenez spoke to was Thome. It’s a conversation Jimenez remembers vividly.

“He said, ‘It’s nice to meet you, I’m Jim Thome,’” Jimenez recalled. “I said, ‘I know who you are. I’m Eloy Jimenez.’”

Then Thome said something to Jimenez that still leaves the White Sox prospect floored more than two years later.  

“Thome said, ‘I know who you are.’ I said, ‘You know who I am?’ Someone from the Hall of Fame tells me 'I know who you are,' and I don’t even play in the big leagues? That was special for me.”

With Jimenez knocking on the door to the majors, special times could be coming soon for the White Sox. Walk inside their spring training clubhouse and you will see three lockers right in a row: Jimenez, Micker Adolfo and Luis Basabe.

The three outfield prospects are often inseparable. They not only play baseball together, they eat and play video games as a trio away from the facility.

They also share the same dream.

“We talk hitting and defense, but most importantly we talk about how it’s going to be when we win the World Series. That’s most of the time what we talk about,” Jimenez said.

How often do they talk about it?

“Pretty much every day. We are excited to see it, and we can’t wait.”

Jimenez speaks with so much confidence, it’s as if he’s lived his life before. He’s just repeating it for a second time for old times’ sake.

But there has been struggle in his life, even in baseball.

The first time Jimenez ever played the game, at 9 years old, he stepped to the plate for his very first at-bat — and got smacked in the head by a wayward pitch.

“I was out of the game. When I got home, I told my dad, 'I don’t want to play anymore,'”  Jimenez said.

Just like that, the baseball career of Eloy Jimenez could have ended after one at-bat. Basically one pitch. It didn’t seem like a big loss to Jimenez. His real love at the time was basketball.

But a few weeks later, his dad circled back on the idea of giving baseball another try.

“Why are you going to quit after just one at-bat?” father asked son. “Why don’t you try again?”

Jimenez begrudgingly returned to the baseball field, mainly to please his dad. He grabbed a bat, stepped back in the box, stared at the pitcher’s mound and to his surprise, fate intervened.


Jimenez smashed a home run about 200 feet over the left-field fence.

How did it feel?

“Oooof. Amazing,” Jimenez said with his big beaming smile.

As he puts it, “from that point on, I was in” when it came to baseball.

He would eventually become one of the top young players in the Dominican Republic. By 2013, he was considered “the crown jewel” of that year’s international class. Jimenez signed a $2.8 million contract with the Cubs as a 16-year-old. Scouts believed he was the total package.

But while playing rookie ball in the Cubs organization in 2014, Jimenez admits something today that few people have ever known: He thought about quitting the game.

“The first year when I came to the United States, I was 17 years old. I was away from my family. I didn’t speak the language. It was really hard. I needed to wait for somebody to translate so I could go eat. It was hard because I wasn’t doing good in the season and I was little bit frustrated with that,” he explained.

Playing on a team featuring top Cubs prospects like Gleyber Torres and Jorge Soler, Jimenez went through a slump that brought him to his knees.

“I was 0-for-40.”

Think about that. Eloy Jimenez 0-for-40. Basically 10 straight games without a hit.

I was like, ‘I don’t want to play anymore.’” Jimenez said.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the light that burns so brightly inside him to flicker back to life.

“The next day I said, 'Why did I say that? (Playing baseball) is something you’re dreaming about. That’s why you play. That’s why you signed. Why do you say that you don’t want to play anymore?' I don’t think that is good. I felt that, too.”

That season in 42 games, Jimenez hit just .227/.268/.367 with three home runs in 164 plate appearances.

“I think that was the year that was the worst of my career,” he said.

Jump ahead five years, Jimenez is coming off his very best year. In 108 games with Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, he combined to hit .337/.384/.577 with 22 home runs and 75 RBIs.    

Not getting called up to the majors last September was “disappointing,” but Jimenez accepted the White Sox decision to hold him back until this season.

“There was nothing I could do about it. There was nothing I could control. I just go to the field and can control what I can do,” he said.

After the season, Jimenez returned to the Dominican Republic, where he received a special visitor at his home: White Sox general manager Rick Hahn.

“It was really special. I appreciated it. He take his time to come to the DR and talk to me and my family,” Jimenez said of Hahn’s visit.

“He just tell us, 'Don’t worry. Just be ready for the moment because it’s going to be soon.' And I said, 'OK, no problem.'”

When he gets to the majors, how good does Jimenez think he’ll be?

“I think I’m going to be good in my mind all the time,” he said with conviction.

Where did he get such confidence in himself?

“I’m born with it. With everything I’ve done. I think that’s special for me.”

Soon the city of Chicago will be able to see this budding star’s poise, spirit, fearlessness and mile-wide smile firsthand when Jimenez dons a White Sox uniform for his major league debut.

When will that be? The question has yet to be answered. But we know this: That time is fast approaching.

“I’m just going to let it happen,” Jimenez said. “When it happens and I get the call, I’m going to be excited.”

So will White Sox fans.  

Get ready everyone, because Eloy is coming.

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MLB The Show: White Sox overcome early deficit to take down Orioles

MLB The Show: White Sox overcome early deficit to take down Orioles

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: White Sox def. Orioles 10-5
Record: 26-29, 3rd in A.L. Central (4.0 GB of Twins)

W: Jimmy Cordero (3-0)
L: Keegan Akin (2-4)

Game summary: After being as many as 11 games behind the division-leading Twins, the White Sox are now nipping at the heels of the top two teams in the division. And this hot streak is largely due to the offensive explosion over the past couple of weeks.

Tuesday’s affair vs. the Orioles was no different, although for the first time in quite some time, the White Sox had to dig themselves out of a hole. Michael Kopech had a really hard time warding off Baltimore singles. Despite a lack of hard contact, the Orioles hit four base knocks and walked twice in the second to take a 4-0 lead.

The South Siders immediately answered. Eloy Jimenez hit a solo homer to get things started in the top of the third. Then, Tim Anderson slapped an RBI single to center, knocking in Nick Madrigal. The inning’s piece-de-resistance came off the bat of Yasmani Grandal. The White Sox catcher hit a no-doubter to left for a grand slam and Chicago went from down four to up by a pair.

After Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 19 games in the seventh with an infield single, Anderson put this affair out of reach with a two-run homer the opposite way. The shortstop’s 12th homer of the season gave the White Sox a three-run lead, more than enough to secure the win over the Orioles and extend the team’s winning streak to eight games.

White Sox lineup

Edwin Encarnacion: 0-4, R (.307 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 1-4, HR (21), RBI, R (.268 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 0-5 (.256 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 2-4, RBI, R (.259 BA)
Jose Abreu: 1-4, BB, 2 R (.307 BA)
Tim Anderson: 2-5, HR (12), 3 RBI, 2 R (.302 BA)
Luis Robert: 2-3, 2B, 2 R (.243 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 3-4, HR (19), 5 RBI, R (.308 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 1-4 (.244 BA)

Scoring summary:

Bottom second

Ramon Urias singled to left field, D.J. Stewart scored. 1-0 BAL.
Austin Wynns singled to right field, Austin Hays scored. 2-0 BAL.
Jose Iglesias singled to left field, Ramon Urias scored. 3-0 BAL.
Trey Mancini flew out to center field, Austin Wynns scored. 4-0 BAL.

Top third

Eloy Jimenez homered to left field. 4-1 BAL.
Tim Anderson singled to center field, Nick Madrigal scored. 4-2 BAL.
Yasmani Grandal homered to left field, Jose Abreu, Anderson and Luis Robert scored. 6-4 CHW.

Bottom sixth

Iglesias singled to center field, Urias scored. 6-5 CHW.

Top seventh

Anderson homered to center field, Abreu scored. 8-5 CHW.
Grandal singled to center field, Robert scored. 9-5 CHW.

Top eighth

Madrigal singled to right field, Edwin Encarnacion scored. 10-5 CHW.

Notable performance: It seems like every other day we are highlighting Jimenez in this section but it’s for good reason: he just keeps on slugging. With Tuesday’s solo homer, Jimenez has homered six times in the last seven games. His 21 homers and 53 RBIs both lead the American League.

Next game: Wednesday, May 27 - Game 56: White Sox at Orioles (Lucas Giolito, 2-7, 5.55 ERA vs John Means, 2-6, 3.05 ERA)

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Tim Anderson calls out Brad Keller's 'excuses,' reminds him 'I'm on yo ass'

Tim Anderson calls out Brad Keller's 'excuses,' reminds him 'I'm on yo ass'

Tim Anderson has seen what Brad Keller has to say. And he’s not having it.

Keller recently made an appearance on The Charity Stripe podcast and was asked all about his intentional plunking of Anderson following the White Sox star shortstop’s bat flip heard ‘round the baseball world last year.

Keller, as was made clear when he threw at Anderson as apparent punishment for breaking the unwritten rule of “no celebrating allowed,” was not a fan.

“How he acted after (hitting the home run), to me and my whole team, was just over the top,” Keller said. “It's like, 'Bro, you hit a homer. Congrats.' This wasn't a Game 7 homer. This wasn't a playoff homer. This wasn't even a homer to win the game. Ultimately, we won the game, 3-2, in the long run, but that gets kind of lost in the whole transaction of everything.

“It just seemed like, at the time, it was an April home run. 'Why are you throwing your bat to the dugout or whatever?' We had beefs in the past, as far as our teams, and that was just like fuel on the fire, basically, is what it seemed like.

“I was upset because I was grinding that day and I was already pissed off at myself, and then you pull some s**t like that? It was like, 'All right, this is bulls**t.' ... I come in, and I'm pissed, I'm hot. And I had other guys on the team like, 'Screw this guy,' basically. Like I said, we (the Royals) had beefs (with Anderson) in the past.”

RELATED: Tim Anderson and the Royals stir up baseball's never-ending debate: 'You want him to not do that? Get him out'

Well, Anderson — on a quest to break what he called baseball’s “have fun barrier” — isn’t about to apologize. In fact, he let Keller know that he isn’t going anywhere.

Major League Baseball and the players’ union seem to have a big divide to bridge on economic and health-and-safety issues if there’s going to be a 2020 season. But if baseball returns this year, Anderson will likely have another chance to swing against Keller.

To be fair, he had a few more after getting plunked April 17. Keller faced the White Sox three more times after that game, which was already his second start of the season against the South Siders. Anderson played in just one of those games and went 1-for-3 with a strikeout.

Should the league’s proposed altered schedule for a shortened 2020 season become a reality, the White Sox and Royals would square off 13 times during the regular season, plenty of opportunity for the reigning big league batting champ to test out a few new flips.

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