The first-place White Sox are getting a power boost here in late July. Young slugger Eloy Jiménez joined the team in Kansas City on Monday and was in the lineup, hitting cleanup as a designated hitter. He didn't fare well just yet, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout in a 4-3 loss, but it's a big deal just to have him back in the middle of that order.
If we could go back to April and tell ourselves Jiménez would be returning before August, it would be a surprise. Jiménez tore his left pectoral tendon in late March and the prognosis was that he'd miss five to six months of action. The expectation was that he'd likely miss almost the entire season or possibly come back for part of September in hopes of getting up to game speed for the playoffs.
Instead, Jiménez made an astoundingly quick recovery and has 12 games of a minor-league rehab assignment under his belt. During those 12 games, he hit .289/.327/.467 with two doubles and two homers. He left Triple-A with a nine-game hitting streak.
Jiménez, 24, had played 177 games in his MLB career before Monday. He hit .276/.321/.527 (122 OPS+) with 32 doubles, 45 homers and 120 RBI. The White Sox entered Monday's game fifth in the AL in batting average, second in on-base percentage and sixth in slugging percentage. They also rank 14th of 15 AL teams in home runs. Jiménez will move the needle there and make the offense that much more well-rounded.
The White Sox are still without injured outfielder Luis Robert, though he's also on the comeback trail. Yasmani Grandal is also out long-term, but he should be back at some point before the postseason. They won't be getting Nick Madrigal back this season, but they are slowly getting closer to full strength.
Despite Monday's loss, the White Sox still have an MLB-best 8.5-game lead in their division.