TODAY: Jimenez was indeed activated off the 10-day IL today, with Chicago optioning outfielder Adam Haseley to Triple-A in the corresponding move.
MAY 27: White Sox fans have received a variety of positive injury news in recent days, led by progress for closer Liam Hendriks as he makes his way back to the mound after his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hendriks threw a live bullpen session on Friday, following which manager Pedro Grifol noted to reporters (including Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun Times) that Hendriks “feels great” and that they are “discussing as an organization to see when he’s going to be activated.”
While Grifol did not specify a timeline, that Hendriks’ return to game action appears imminent is not only a major win for the scuffling White Sox, but a personal triumph for Hendriks as well. The three-time All Star has been among the very best relievers in baseball since the start of the 2019 season, with a 2.26 ERA, 2.13 FIP, and 114 saves in 239 innings of work in that time. When Hendriks returns to action, he figures to reclaim the closer role, joining Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, and Reynaldo Lopez in the late inning mix on the south side.
There may not be a specific timeline for Hendriks’ return to action, but the same cannot be said for outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who Van Schouwen notes could return to action as soon as tomorrow, per Grifol. That tracks with last week’s report that Jimenez was “ahead of schedule” in recovering from his recent appendectomy and could return to the lineup over Memorial Day weekend.
The former top prospect broke out in a big way in 2022. Though he was limited to just 84 games by injuries, Jimenez slashed a phenomenal .295/.358/.500 with 16 home runs in that limited time on the field. The 26-year-old slugger hasn’t quite reached those same heights in 25 games this year, though he has managed a solid if unremarkable .258/.321/.423 slash line in 97 plate appearances across those games. Upon his return, Jimenez figures to spend most of his time at DH, though he will factor into the corner outfield mix as well.
With Jimenez returning to take over the DH slot on most days, it was recently reported that infielder Jake Burger would move from the designated hitter spot to begin taking reps at second base, allowing the club to keep his 144 wRC+ bat in the lineup. That decision puts into question the role of incumbent second baseman Elvis Andrus once he returns from his current oblique injury. The answer to those questions may end up coming in short order, as Van Schouwen notes that Andrus is set to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte tonight as Grifol revealed that the veteran infielder could return to the big league club later this week.
Andrus impressed with the Sox in 43 games down the stretch last season, slashing .271/.309/.464, but has struggled in 39 games this season after returning to the club on a one-year, $3MM deal during the offseason. In 151 plate appearances in 2023, Andrus has slashed just .201/.280/.254 with a wRC+ of just 50. Much of Andrus’s lost production comes from a power outage, as the veteran slammed nine home runs and eight doubles in 191 plate appearances with the Sox last year, but has mustered only a single home run and four doubles in just 40 fewer trips to the plate this season.