Eloy Jiménez to miss ‘extended period’ in latest blow to the Chicago White Sox after a dismal 1st 50 games of the season

The 50th game of the Chicago White Sox 2024 season Wednesday played out like many others this year.

The day began with the Sox placing a key offensive player on the injured list. In this instance, it was designated hitter Eloy Jiménez, who suffered a left hamstring strain Tuesday.

As the game played out, the Sox found themselves a pitch or two away from swinging momentum. But the Toronto Blue Jays collected timely hit after timely hit, scoring seven runs with two outs in the second inning.

Later on, a throwing error contributed to another Blue Jays run. And offensively, the team was heading toward being blanked again until Tommy Pham homered leading off the eighth.

The Sox scored twice in the inning, but it was far too little, way too late in a 9-2 loss.

The Sox fell to 15-35 with the defeat, the worst 50-game start in franchise history. And before Thursday’s series opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Guaranteed Rate Field, manager Pedro Grifol said Jiménez would miss “an extended period of time.”

“It’s a hamstring, and he beat it up pretty good,” Grifol said. “Exactly how much time? Who knows? But it’ll be an extended period of time.

“You don’t really know until you start treating it and you start working it and strengthening it, how it’s coming along. So it could be a little quicker, it could last a little longer. Who knows?”

Grifol discussed juggling all the injuries — as well as what he has seen from the team at the plate, on the mound and defensively — with the Tribune on Wednesday afternoon at Rogers Centre.

“We’ve had to navigate so much adversity, whether it’s one-run losses (or) injuries, that it’s tough to really assess where the team is at because we have a different team now than when we first started,” Grifol said. “We’ve had basically a lot of different teams, a lot of transactions here. When you lose your No. 2, 3, 4 hitters for the majority of the season, to fill those guys, you probably have to run through different lineups (and) different matchups.”

The No. 2 hitter, Yoán Moncada, suffered a left adductor strain on April 9 in Cleveland. He has been trending toward returning after the All-Star break.

The No. 3 hitter, Luis Robert Jr., has been out since April 6 with a right hip flexor strain. He just began playing games with the organization’s Arizona complex team and could join Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday. Jiménez, the No. 4 hitter, is on the IL for the second time this season and eighth time since April 2019.

Grifol also included third baseman Bryan Ramos, who made a splash after being called up from Double A before suffering a left quad strain May 14. He’s rehabbing with Charlotte.

Grifol told the Tribune on Wednesday that he couldn’t recall being involved with a team “that’s had to face this much adversity, as far as injuries are concerned,” through this portion of a season.

“But it builds resiliency, it builds character,” Grifol said. “It builds you as a person, as an organization. It tests your depth. And we had the first couple of weeks, yeah, we struggled (losing 22 of 25), but the last three weeks we’ve been playing close to .500 baseball (12-13 over their last 25 games) without those guys.

“It goes to the resiliency that’s been built up, and the character and the integrity and the work ethic that these guys have in there and that everybody has kind of stepped it up.”

The Sox hit .192 as a team and averaged 2.2 runs per game while beginning 3-22. They’ve hit .240 and averaged more than a run more (3.5) in the next 25.

Eight of the 10 times the team has been shut out this season came in the first 22 games. Grifol said “the (at-bats) are better.”

“Not chasing as much,” Grifol said. “(Hitting coach) Marcus (Thames) and (assistant hitting coach) Mike (Tosar) are constantly grinding with these guys on making improvements and adjustments and I think we’re better on the offensive side.”

Grifol also highlighted the pitching from Garrett Crochet and Erick Fedde, catcher Korey Lee’s growth behind the plate and in the batter’s box, and what veterans like Pham and shortstop Paul DeJong have brought to the mix.

As for the team’s defense, a major focal point this offseason, Grifol said it’s been “inconsistent.”

“The infield has been OK, the outfield has been really good at times and that’s just an area as a team we’ve got to continue to improve,” Grifol said. “There’s been games we’ve been really, really good. And there’s been games where we’ll make a mental mistake like miss a cutoff man or that kind of stuff.

“Overall, I’m OK with it, but it’s not exactly where we want it as a team. We’ll continue to get better at it.”

Every little thing will help a team that’s 5-8 in one-run games.

The Sox entered Thursday with the lowest winning percentage — .300 — in the majors. They’ve won five of their last seven home games but return to Guaranteed Rate Field after a 1-5 trip in which they played the New York Yankees and Blue Jays. The Sox are a dismal 5-21 on the road.

“The last three weeks, we’ve had our tough losses, but we’ve also had our good wins,” Grifol said. “I’m going to choose to flush the first 20 games or so and focus on the type of baseball we’ve been playing the last three weeks and what we’ve got to do moving forward.”