The long-awaited return of Eloy Jimenez comes in time for the Chicago White Sox to continue their road success against the Kansas City Royals.
The budding star is slated to make his 2021 debut Monday night, when the White Sox aim for an 11th consecutive win in Kansas City over a Royals' club looking for a season-high sixth straight victory.
Jimenez, 24, who has recorded 45 homers and 120 RBIs in 177 games through his first two seasons, underwent surgery in March to fix a ruptured pectoral tendon. Following a significant minor-league rehab stint, Jimenez appears set for his first action of 2021 in the opener of this four-game set.
"As soon as he walks into that clubhouse, he's going to light it up," Chicago manager Tony La Russa told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"He's playing the outfield with good movement. He's throwing, he's reaching balls, defensively. At the plate, he's swinging free and easy.
"Everybody's fired up."
It's uncertain if Jimenez will start in the outfield or be the designated hitter as the AL Central-leading White Sox look to build on Sunday's 3-1 win at Milwaukee that snapped a three-game skid. Chicago is 6-3 against the Royals this season. More impressively, it's averaged 7.5 runs during a 10-game winning streak at Kansas City.
Scheduled White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel (7-3, 4.22 ERA) is 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA over 11 career starts against the Royals, whom he'll face for the first time in 2021. Keuchel, however, is 1-2 with a 5.70 ERA over his last five outings overall. The left-hander has also pitched beyond the fifth inning just once during that span.
Keuchel allowed two runs, four hits, walked two and struck out six over five innings while not factoring during a 9-5 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday.
Kansas City star Whit Merrifield, who could possibly be dealt by Friday's trade deadline, is 6-for-17 with a double versus Keuchel. Teammate Jorge Soler is 1-for-4 against Keuchel and batting .190 on the season, but has hit four of his 11 home runs over the last five games.
Two of those homers came as Kansas City completed a three-game home sweep with a 6-1 victory over Detroit on Sunday. Despite sitting 13 games under .500, the Royals have totaled 31 runs and 10 homers during their third five-game winning streak of the season.
"I think that guys are still out there playing [with] 100-percent effort, no matter what the standings say, no matter what the wins and losses say," scheduled Monday starter Mike Minor told the Royals' official website.
Minor (7-8, 5.45) is 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts against the White Sox this season. The left-hander posted a 10.80 ERA while losing his final four starts prior to the All-Star break, then returned to give up an earned run and strike out five with a walk over six innings of a 5-2 victory at Milwaukee on Tuesday.
Chicago's Brian Goodwin is 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs versus Minor. Andrew Vaughn is 0-for-5 with two walks against Minor, but batting .351 with five homers, seven doubles and 12 RBIs in his last 22 games.
--Field Level Media