July 7, 2022

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'We still very much believe': Hahn talks Eloy, mindset amid skid

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CHICAGO — White Sox left fielder Eloy Jiménez underwent a surgical procedure to repair a torn hamstring tendon behind his right knee Tuesday morning at Rush Oak Brook Surgery Center. The estimated outlook for his return remains at six to eight weeks, per comments made by general manager Rick Hahn three hours before a home contest against the Royals.

Jiménez suffered what was originally termed a right hamstring strain during the second inning of Saturday’s loss to the Twins while running hard out of the batter’s box to beat an infield grounder to third in the second inning.

If this particular procedure sounds familiar, it’s because catcher Yasmani Grandal had the same one done last season, and right-handed starter Lance Lynn went through a similar process before the start of the 2022 campaign. Hahn feels confident in that six-to-eight-week projection with the track record in these injuries, barring any potential setbacks.

The injury marks an extensive absence for Jiménez in back-to-back seasons. He had a left pectoral tendon rupture surgically repaired in 2021 after making an ill-advised attempt at robbing a home run hit well over the fence at Camelback Ranch during Spring Training, and he returned on July 26.

Hahn understands there’s a certain level of depression that sets in for any player who deals with a season-altering setback, something Jiménez discussed last year concerning his time away, but he isn’t worried about Jiménez with the knowledge of the 25-year old’s tremendous makeup.

Hahn was not happy with Jiménez being characterized as injury prone, which he caught wind of at some point prior to Tuesday’s media session. He referred to such a statement as “some lazy analysis.”

“Couldn’t be further from the truth in terms of the fact he’s missing significant time this year and last year, that’s the extent of you can call the guy injury prone,” Hahn said. “He made a bad decision last year trying to make a play. This year, trying to get to a level he barely accessed all year, that’s more a guy trying to do everything he can to help his team to win, even if it’s perhaps not the right decision at the time.

“That’s not a guy who is injury prone. That’s just a moniker that, again, people try to besmirch a guy’s ability with an unfair label to put on someone like that. Whether they’re spouting stuff told them by others, it’s just unfair.”

A portion of Hahn’s 19-minute conversation was spent updating other recovering White Sox players, but he also talked about the team’s seven-game losing streak moving into this seven-game homestand. He admitted to concern, frustration and disappointment with the team falling from 6-2 to 6-9, but he also could maintain perspective over one very bad week.

“We still very much believe in this team’s talent,” Hahn said. “We believe in this team’s upside and are confident over time that talent will prevail and take us to the level that we aspire to be at, that we intended to be at the start of this season.”

When Hahn spoke to the media before the home opener on April 12, he pointed to an expectation of bumpy times over the first six to eight weeks true for all teams after the quick Spring Training ramp-up. That road has been a little bumper than the White Sox would have wanted, as Hahn reinforced his home opener points on Tuesday.

“It’s not entirely unanticipated that there were going to be challenges health wise for everyone in baseball,” Hahn said. “Secondly, you heard me say I don’t believe any of these injury issues this early should be placed on any individual failing by any individual member or the organization — player, staff or otherwise. We are asking a great deal of these guys after a short period of time in an again unique offseason that some of these things are going to happen.

“We want to do everything in our power to safeguard against it happening again, and we’ll continue to adjust our programs and look for ways to get better. But it’s unfair to put this on an individual player or member of the training staff.”

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