Eloy Jiménez remained out of the White Sox lineup as they headed into the second game of their opening-round playoff series against the Oakland Athletics.
Jiménez tested his injured foot before Game 1 on Tuesday, experiencing discomfort and mobility issues, according to manager Rick Renteria. Those issues did not subside enough for the White Sox to deem Jiménez able to start Game 2, and he was out of the lineup for the team's fifth consecutive game, including the final three contests of the regular season.
"He’s still about the same," Renteria said Wednesday morning. "The usage for him for us is about the same, maybe a pinch-hit at-bat. They are still treating him up, trying to see if they can continue to calm down the soreness in that foot. But hopefully, it continues to improve a little bit.
"We are optimistic, conservatively optimistic, we can get him to improve."
Plenty wondered why, if Jiménez was well enough to pinch-hit, he wasn't able to serve as the team's designated hitter. Renteria had a brief explanation for that: "You need to be able to run." Jiménez not being able to run the bases means he's not able to be in the game for four at-bats, even if he's not playing the field. It means he could swing the bat one time and come out for a pinch-runner, if necessary.
Certainly the White Sox always want to have Jiménez and his productive bat in the lineup. He finished the regular season with a .296/.332/.559 slash line, ranking in the top 10 in the American League in hits, homers, RBIs, extra-base hits, total bases and slugging percentage.
But after doing their typical damage against a left-handed starting pitcher Tuesday, the White Sox could have really used him Wednesday, up against right-hander Chris Bassitt, who finished the season incredibly well, winning AL Pitcher of the Month honors for September. Jiménez had a .902 OPS against righties during the regular season.
Leury García, who got the start in place of Jiménez in left field for Game 1, remained there for Game 2. Adam Engel, who hit one of three White Sox home runs in Tuesday's game, started over Nomar Mazara on Wednesday, even with the hand of pitcher changing.
Edwin Encarnación got the start at DH for Game 2, the White Sox hoping he can provide some of the pop he flashed during an otherwise forgettable regular season. Though Renteria indicated he'd like to get Yasmani Grandal and James McCann in the lineup at the same time when possible — as he did in Game 1 — McCann's numbers against right-handed pitching were not good during the regular season. He posted a .215/.257/.446 slash line. Of course, Encarnación's righty splits, in the middle of a season-long slump, were worse, at .169/.246/.371.
"I think that we are going to take the veteran right now who has been in this dance before and maybe we can draw on that," Renteria said of Encarnación, who is playing in his sixth consecutive postseason. "I know he hasn’t any, quote-unquote, 'positive outcomes' against Bassitt in the past. He’s had some really good at-bats."
Here's the full White Sox lineup for Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series:
1. Tim Anderson, SS
2. Yoán Moncada, 3B
3. Yasmani Grandal, C
4. José Abreu, 1B
5. Edwin Encarnación, DH
6. Luis Robert, CF
7. Adam Engel, RF
8. Leury García, LF
9. Nick Madrigal, 2B