Expect to see a healthy dose of Jimenez at DH for White Sox this season
New manager Pedro Grifol knows Eloy Jimenez does not want to be the White Sox's designated hitter this season.
Grifol is well aware Jimenez wants to play right field after losing his starting job in left to newcomer Andrew Benintendi.
What figured to be a controversy in spring training has barely even been a distraction, at least in Grifol's view.
"I love it," Grifol told reporters in Glendale, Ariz. "Why would you not commit yourself and compete for a job in the outfield? (Jimenez) is a mainstay in our lineup, of course. But why wouldn't you want to prepare yourself and go out there and compete for a defensive job?
"I would do the same thing if I was in his shoes. And I want him to do that. I want him to go out there and stay hungry and compete for that right field job."
Jimenez fared quite well as the Sox's designated hitter last season, hitting .274/.343/.500 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI in 50 games.
"The positive, if you want to take some positive development out of his limited availability last year, was that Eloy showed he could thrive in the DH spot offensively when that was his primary spot," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "A lot of players we've seen over time take a period of time to adjust to that role, and Eloy certainly showed he was able to produce as a primary DH. That said, I still think there will be some opportunities along the way for him to play in the outfield."
Jimenez delivered out of the DH spot in 2022, but his offensive production was even better when he played left field -- .340/.389/.515 with 5 homers and 19 RBI in 30 games.
Defensively, Jimenez is a below average outfielder and playing defense has been hazardous to his health over the past four years.
Still, he wants to be an all-around player.
"Everybody here knows I don't like DH," Jimenez said after playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic and returning to Sox camp. "I'm going to work to be an outfielder."
With rookie Oscar Colas likely to be the White Sox's regular in right field this season, it looks like Jimenez is going to be the primary designated hitter.
If he does get some playing time in the outfield, Gavin Sheets and Colas are among the candidates who can fill in at DH.
"Last year, when I was DH-ing more than playing the outfield, it was because I had surgery," Jimenez said. "And I understand that. But this year, I've been working really hard to play the outfield more than DH. So I don't really think that I'm going to accept it because if I'm working hard, I'm going to get better and I want to play in the outfield."
In April of last season, Jimenez tore a tendon behind his right knee running to first base, had surgery and missed more than two months.
In Monday's Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks, Jimenez had to make an early exit with cramping in his right calf. The Sox listed his playing status as day-to-day and he was good to go on Tuesday.