White Sox' Pedro Grifol not committing to Opening Day right fielder
Pedro Grifol not committing to Opening Day right fielder originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The topic of right field has been an ongoing offseason narrative for the White Sox.
With Oscar Colás officially making the team's roster on Wednesday, he joined a competition with veterans Eloy Jiménez and Romy González in a battle for the position. The White Sox documented Colas' finding out his status on the team with a video they posted to social media.
MORE: White Sox announce Colás makes team with heartwarming vid
But Grifol is not committing to a starter in right field for Opening Day on Thursday, yet, according to Scott Merkin.
Grifol said earlier in the offseason Colás will have "every opportunity" to become the team's everyday right fielder. But Jiménez wasn't ready to hand off the spot to the newcomer. He mentioned to the media he didn't want to be the team's designated hitter for every game.
“I’m really preparing for playing outfield,” said Jiménez in January. “Not more DH than outfield.”
No matter who Grifol sends out on Opening Day, the message right now is clear. All three will get opportunities to see right field this season. (Likely Colás and Jiménez more than González.) If one outshines the rest, he will likely remain in the position full-time. But as the season gets underway, they will all see chances to play defense.
The case for Colás is his athletic ability and comfortability in the outfield. In the minor leagues with the White Sox last season, he played the majority of his games in center field (70) and in right field (34). His ability to play center shows his defensive capabilities and versatility.
Colás made his case to Merkin, too, saying "By working harder. I have to give not just 100 percent. I have to give 200 percent now. It’s not just getting here. It’s staying here."
Colas on how he can reward the White Sox for making him their RF: "By working harder. I have to give not just 100 percent. I have to give 200 percent now. Itâs not just getting here. Itâs staying here."
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) March 29, 2023
Jiménez, on the other hand, has only played left field in his career. Never right, never center. But, unlike Colás, he's played at the major league level for four years now. He has hundreds of games in right field.
The biggest argument against Jiménez, and in turn, for Colás, is to preserve Jiménez's health. Jiménez, despite being freshly into his major league career, is averaging a lowly 79 games per season over four years. Keeping him in the dugout on defense would likely preserve his health. Last season, he suffered a hamstring injury while playing in the outfield. In 2021, he tore his pectoral muscle while leaping for a catch in left field.
Jiménez is arguably the White Sox' best bat, too. When healthy, he's a dominant power hitter. Last season, he slashed .295/.358/.500 from the plate while hitting 16 home runs and 54 RBIs. In his rookie season, he hit 31 home runs and 79 RBIs.
The best option is to let Colás play right field. Switching between the two would make sense, but keeping Jiménez healthy is of the utmost importance.
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