Chicago White Sox fall 7-2 to the New York Yankees and former teammate Carlos Rodón as Eloy Jiménez returns to the outfield

NEW YORK — Yankee Stadium brings back good memories for Chicago White Sox slugger Eloy Jiménez.

“Every time I am here, it’s good to remember that here was my first (major-league) home run,” Jiménez said Sunday morning. “It was special.”

Jiménez homered twice in that April 12, 2019, contest.

He started in left field that day. Sunday, he was in right field — his first appearance in the outfield this season.

“I felt a little bit weird in the first two innings, but after, I felt OK,” he said after the game.

Jiménez handled the only playable fly ball that went his way for the final out of the second. He ran out of room for two baseballs that landed in the right-field seats for home runs — a three-run blast by Jon Berti in the fourth and a two-run home run by Aaron Judge an inning later as the Yankees beat the Sox 7-2 in front of 41,041 at Yankee Stadium.

Starter Chris Flexen allowed seven runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and a walk in four-plus innings as the Sox were swept in the three-game series. According to MLB Statcast, the home run by Berti would have left just one other park — Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Judge’s would not have been a home run in any other stadium.

“It’s frustrating, nothing you can do about it,” Flexen said. “It’s part of the game. I just need to be better.”

The Sox (14-33) were out-homered 8-1 in the series.

Jiménez went 1-for-4 with a fourth-inning single against former teammate Carlos Rodón.

The Sox selected Rodón in the first round of the 2014 draft and he spent seven seasons with the team. He allowed two runs on four hits with six strikeouts and two walks in six innings on Sunday.

“Going up against your former club is a big deal,” Rodón said of his first regular-season matchup against the Sox. “I definitely wanted to beat them. I’m sure they wanted to beat me as well.

“I know a lot of guys over there. There’s some good players over there. So it was a treat to play against them.”

Jiménez called the reunion “fun.”

“He has good stuff,” Jiménez said.

Jiménez’s return to the outfield came as the Sox wanted to have as many right-handed batters in the lineup against the lefty Rodón.

“I wanted to get Korey (Lee) in as a DH, I wanted to catch (Martín) Maldonado,” Grifol said before the game. “Eloy’s been moving around good out there. He’s been shagging, working out there. It’s the time to do it.”

Jiménez has never been shy about how he prefers the outfield over being a designated hitter.

“I’ve been working for this moment,” Jiménez said before the game. “And it’s good to have this opportunity. It’s big to me because I like to play in the outfield. I don’t like to just sit down and be a DH.

“I’m more in the game. I’m not just sitting down and up to hit. I get to focus more on every part of the game.”

After the game, he said of the experience, “It was something that feels good.”

Jiménez played 14 games in right field last season and was slotted in as the DH in 105 games. His first 32 starts this season were all at DH.

“He’s got really good hands out there,” Grifol said. “It’s not a matter of him catching the ball or anything like that. It’s a matter of us protecting him. Just been too many injuries that we have to kind of err on the side of caution with that. This is a good park, a smaller right field.

“He’s our DH. Once in a while you run into a situation like today, like we need it. And I’ll play him out there. But for the most part, he’s our DH.”

Jiménez has at least one hit in five of his last six games. He’s slashing .218/.274/.371 with five home runs and 12 RBIs this season.

“I feel good, sometimes not lucky,” Jiménez said before the game. “I’m hitting the ball hard, taking good at-bats and I think I’m almost there.

“After I came back from the IL, I’ve been a little bit struggling to find that rhythm that I had in spring training. But right now, I feel that it’s getting back and I’m getting good at-bats.”

Jiménez was unavailable April 1-15 after suffering a left adductor strain. He stole his third base of the season Sunday, a signal that he’s healthy.

“He’s going to get hot at some point,” Grifol said before the game. “He’s going to get hot for a couple of weeks and it’s going to carry us.”

Left fielder Corey Julks had two of the six Sox hits Sunday, including a solo home run during a two-run second inning. He also robbed catcher Jose Trevino of a home run, making a leaping catch in left field in the seventh.

Second baseman Zach Remillard had an RBI triple in the second, but he was picked off third base later in the inning on what Grifol called a “pretty good play” by Trevino, who fired to the bag after appealing a checked swing to first.

“Missed opportunities and home runs got us,” Grifol said.