White Sox

How Eloy Jiménez can help White Sox rookie Luis Robert during short MLB season

How Eloy Jiménez can help White Sox rookie Luis Robert during short MLB season

Eloy Jiménez has been planning for Luis Robert's rookie season from the time the two met.

"When I met him a couple years ago, I said, 'When we play together, I'm going to take care of you because you are my boy.'"

Though it's coming four months later than originally anticipated, Jiménez and Robert will finally be playing together when the White Sox start the shortened 2020 season at the end of the month.

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Robert arrives at the major league level with all the hype in the world, more even than the amount Jiménez brought with him when he made his big league debut at the beginning of the 2019 season. He's a true five-tool threat who can do just about everything on a baseball field, and he dazzled minor league crowds last season with a combination of tape-measure home runs, blazing speed and highlight-reel catches in center field.

But he's never seen a major league pitch. He did get a big-money contract during the offseason, the same kind of deal Jiménez got ahead of his big league debut last year. But that won't make him immune from any necessary adjustments he'll need to make after getting his first taste of major league pitching. And with the schedule squeezed from the typical six months to a brief two-month sprint to the playoffs, he won't have much time to make them.

The good news for Robert — and fellow highly touted prospect Nick Madrigal, should he make it to the majors this season, too — is that he has a ton of talent and could well prove himself worthy of the massive expectations that have him setting the baseball world on fire and chasing AL Rookie of the Year honors.

"It's going to be a little bit hard because there's just going to be 60 games," Jiménez said Saturday. "But I think they have the talent to make that adjustment quick. They're going to be fine."

That confidence might prove warranted. But Jiménez is a talented hitter, too. And that didn't stop him from taking time to adjust to how major league pitchers were attacking him last year.

Yes, he finished his rookie campaign with 31 home runs, but the year was hardly a runaway success. After the White Sox played their 60th game in 2019, Jiménez was batting just .224 with a .273 on-base percentage, and he had missed a large chunk of games after spraining his ankle when he leaped into the outfield wall attempting to rob an unrobbale home run.

He obviously figured things out, not just turning in that big home-run total but delivering some memorable moments — the game-winning homer against the Cubs comes to mind — and catching fire in the season's final month. In his final 27 games last season, Jiménez slashed .363/.400/1.090 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs.

"I can say at the beginning I was just worrying about that I needed to play hard and I needed to do this and I needed to do that," Jiménez said. "But at the end, I just said, 'I'm going to play hard, and if it's happening, it's happening. If it's not, another day.'

"I think that helped me a lot, that got me out of the pressure and just go and have fun. For me, that was the key last year at the end of the season."

RELATED: Eloy Jiménez tries to keep joking, start winning amid MLB rule changes

He'll probably give Robert some similar advice. Robert will have no shortage of help in the White Sox clubhouse, with his fellow Cubans Yoán Moncada and José Abreu plotting their own mentorship of the 22-year-old.

But Robert has a different challenge to face. Jiménez took advantage of baseball's typical six-month schedule to figure things out. Moncada took even longer, going through an entire season of poor results in 2018 before going to work in the offseason and breaking out in a big way in 2019. Robert will have just two months this season. And so it maybe shouldn't be surprising if he follows a similar path.

But those same players, two guys who know what it's like for it to take time for everything to come together, also believe in the hype surrounding Robert.

"Luis Robert is a great guy," Jiménez said. "Now, we are together. And he has kind of the same contract like me, and I know what it feels like and I'm going to help him.

"For me, it's going to be good. It's going to be a challenge, but it's going to be good."


White Sox face Cardinals with another bullpen day in Game 2 of doubleheader

White Sox face Cardinals with another bullpen day in Game 2 of doubleheader

Despite their preseason stockpile of starting-pitching depth, the White Sox will resort to their second bullpen day of the season in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader.

Lucas Giolito, the ace of the South Side staff, takes the ball in the first game against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, who will be seeing game action for the first time in more than two weeks as they finally resume play at the end of a pause caused by nearly 20 positive tests for COVID-19 among players and staff.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria revealed Friday that Game 2 will feature another group effort by his relief corps. Remember that doubleheader games are now just seven innings long.

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This bullpen day comes just one week after the last. A week ago, in the second game of the White Sox series with the Cleveland Indians, Renteria called on seven different relievers in a 7-1 loss. While Matt Foster started things well, Drew Anderson, who was newly called up from the team's alternate training site in Schaumburg, fell apart in the fourth inning and was tagged for six runs. With the White Sox unable to solve Indians starter Zach Plesac that day, the remaining five White Sox pitchers mostly served in mop-up duty.

Now, that's certainly not to say every bullpen day will yield a similar result. The White Sox bullpen has looked like a strength this season, even if the team's relief ERA of 4.15 was just the 15th best in baseball as of this writing. But it's a perfect example of how quickly the White Sox starting-pitching depth has been drained and the position it's put the team in just a third of the way through this shortened 60-game season.

Reynaldo López and Carlos Rodón remain on the injured list with no timetables for their returns to the White Sox rotation. Gio González has been called on to fill in for López, and he's been unable to make it out of the fifth inning in any of his first three starts in a White Sox uniform, though the team has won two of those three games. There has been no replacement in the rotation for Rodón.

RELATED: White Sox, Cardinals to play doubleheader after Friday's game postponed

Back on Aug. 5, general manager Rick Hahn said both injured pitchers could be back in action within a few weeks, certainly better than season-ending diagnoses for those two key cogs. But a few weeks is a big chunk of this 60-game season. With Renteria not delivering timelines for either pitcher Friday, it seems Saturday's bullpen day might not be the last one we see from the White Sox this summer.

For those wondering where highly touted pitching prospect Dane Dunning fits into all this, Hahn specifically said that Dunning would not be called upon to take Rodón's spot last weekend. The general manager said on Aug. 5 that Dunning, coming off Tommy John surgery, had not yet worked his way to the kind of length the team wants to see from starting pitchers at the big league level. That's not to say Dunning won't appear at all for the White Sox this season, but as of nine days ago, he wasn't ready yet, not to mention that the front office continues to operate under the idea that an injury at the major league level should have no effect on when a prospect is ready for a promotion.

But with López and Rodón on the shelf — along with youngster Jimmy Lambert, who's on the 45-day injured list — Dunning not ready, Michael Kopech electing not to play this season due to personal reasons and Ross Detwiler limited to a relief role at the moment, there are few if any places for the White Sox to turn. The team inked veteran left-hander Clayton Richard to a minor league deal, but Hahn said going outside the organization for rotation help isn't very likely with the trade deadline approaching at the end of the month.

That all makes it seem like bullpen days might be something to get used to for a little while.


White Sox, Cardinals to play doubleheader after Friday's game postponed

White Sox, Cardinals to play doubleheader after Friday's game postponed

The St. Louis Cardinals haven’t played a game since July 29.

But that’s scheduled to change, with two games against the White Sox on the same day.

The Cardinals, who have experienced 18 positive COVID-19 tests among players and staffers in recent weeks, are scheduled to finally return to action Saturday in a doubleheader with the South Siders at Guaranteed Rate Field. First pitch for Game 1 is scheduled for 1:10 p.m.

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The two teams were originally scheduled to begin a three-game series Thursday, with the Field of Dreams game in Iowa. That nationally televised showcase event was pushed to 2021 due to logistical reasons caused by the pandemic. That forced a switch to a regular three-game weekend set on the South Side, the first game of which, set for Friday night, was postponed after another Cardinals staffer reportedly tested positive Thursday.

So it will be three games in two days, the start of a Chicago-baseball marathon for the Redbirds, who will play eight games — including a trio doubleheaders — in five days against the White Sox and Cubs.

The Cardinals have seen 18 straight games postponed after playing just their fifth game of the season to cap a two-game set with the Minnesota Twins at the end of July. That’s a total of four entire series and three doubleheaders.

RELATED: White Sox Tim Anderson knows his impact on lineup better than anyone else

They’ve been out of action for two weeks, and that’s a pretty big hole blown in what was already a shortened and compressed 60-game schedule. The daunting task ahead of trying to make up so many games in such a brief amount of time before the regular season ends Sept. 27 has generated talk of imbalanced records across the league and what Major League Baseball might have to do should numerous teams finish the year without having played the same number of games.

Obviously, that could have a dramatic effect on playoff seeding in the expanded postseason fields, which grew to include eight teams in each league. While it might sound like a quick fix to simply pluck the Cardinals out of the running for a playoff berth in the National League, doing so would create even more headaches for the teams who were supposed to play them. That includes the White Sox and all their AL Central rivals, putting them in a wildly different situation than teams from the AL East and AL West, with whom they are competing for wild card spots. And it could change things within the AL Central race, too, with the Detroit Tigers waiting to find out when they'll play the four-game series they were supposed to play against the Cardinals last week.

And so the Cardinals will attempt to resume their season Saturday on the South Side. Though like everything involving the 2020 Major League Baseball season, and the Cardinals' campaign in particular, things have the potential to change in a hurry.