MILWAUKEE — Amid a couple tough days in Wisconsin, the Chicago White Sox got some of the best news they could get.
Left fielder Eloy Jiménez, sidelined since rupturing his pectoral tendon at the end of spring training, is expected to be back in the lineup Monday, when the White Sox start a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals in Missouri, manager Tony La Russa announced Sunday afternoon.
Jiménez’s return — along with the expected injury comebacks of center fielder Luis Robert and catcher Yasmani Grandal — figure to provide a bigger boost than any trade-deadline acquisition possibly could, and a team that’s established itself as a World Series contender without its injured stars could shift into another gear with the middle of the batting order replenished.
La Russa said that its unknown whether Jiménez will play left field or designated hitter upon his return Monday. The left fielder injured himself attempting to rob a home run and has had a history of misadventures in the outfield. His bat, meanwhile, has proven to be extraordinarily valuable, and his power and RBI potential figure to be a daily fixture for the remainder of the White Sox run at a championship.
Regardless, La Russa mentioned that Jiménez’s return will have no impact on the playing time of Andrew Vaughn, who has hit well and filled in in impressive fashion in left field in Jiménez’s absence this season.
With the White Sox getting some of their biggest bats back and plotting an aggressive approach ahead of Friday’s trade deadline, the team could be well stocked with reinforcements over the next several weeks. While they’ve experienced little resistance in rising to the top of the American League Central, a remade lineup — or simply a lineup made whole — figures to better their chances against the rest of the AL’s top contenders.
After missing most of the White Sox three playoff games last fall, Jiménez said earlier this year how badly he wanted to return to the postseason. Now he’s being reinserted back into the lineup and could help the White Sox get hot as they move toward what they hope is a lengthy October run.