ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A silver lining for the White Sox, who lost 4-1 on Sunday to complete the Rays’ three-game sweep, is that Eloy Jimenez is beginning to hit baseballs a long way.
Heating up after a 10-day stint on the injured list because of a hamstring strain, Jimenez hit his first two homers Friday and Saturday and threw in a double in the finale that just missed being homer No. 3.
“I hit it a little bit kind of weird,” he said, “but I hit it. I really hit it pretty good.”
The next problem to solve is Luis Robert, who is in a 4-for-41 slump. Manager Pedro Grifol put Robert in the leadoff spot — for the third time this season and only the fourth since 2021 — a day after he went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and far too many swings and misses at pitches out of the zone. Robert responded with a two-strike base hit off Rays starter Zach Eflin in the first and grounded out in his next three at-bats, at least putting the ball in play.
“These guys are human beings,” Grifol said. “They’re playing a tough game. It’s tough to hit. They’re not always going to do it.”
Walking back to the dugout after some strikeouts, Robert has looked like a player who is going through a difficult stretch.
“That he gets down because he swings at a bat pitch or something like that during a game, I’m OK with it,” Grifol said. “I don’t want him coming back with a smile on his face. I don’t have a problem with his body language.”
Grifol continues to believe in Roberts. A dead giveaway was the rookie skipper’s use of the word “believe” 11 times in one answer about the 25-year-old center fielder.
“I believe in these guys,” he said. “So that might be a fault of mine, or maybe not, I don’t know. I believe in [Robert]. He’ll turn it around.”
Santos feeling the heat
What a wonderful thing it must be to throw 103.1 mph at 23.
White Sox reliever Gregory Santos doesn’t have to imagine what it’s like. The righthander reared back and delivered the fastest Sox pitch of the Statcast era — going back to 2015 — in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Rays.
“It feels very good,” he said via a translator. “When I turned to the scoreboard and saw 103, I said, ‘[Expletive], that’s good.’ ”
Santos threw the pitch — his fastest on record — on the anniversary of his big-league debut, which came with the Giants in 2021. Later that season, he was suspended for 80 games under Major League Baseball’s drug program after testing positive for the banned substance Stanozolol, a synthetic steroid derived from testosterone.
Not only did Santos show electric stuff Saturday, but he was poised like an old pro over two scoreless innings of a tie game.
“I think the main focus in those situations is to try to get the first batter out,” he said. “That helps. Once I do that, my thought is, ‘OK, I’ve already got this.’ ”
A Kelly comeback?
Reliever Joe Kelly, who hasn’t pitched since April 8 due to a strained groin, could be back on the mound in Toronto. Kelly threw a live batting-practice session Friday, touching 99 mph, according to Grifol, and using all his pitches. Grifol described Kelly’s status as “really close.”
WHITE SOX AT BLUE JAYS
Monday: Lance Lynn (0-2, 7.59 ERA) vs. Chris Bassitt (2-2, 5.40), 6:07 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM.
Tuesday: Mike Clevinger (2-1, 3.26) vs. Jose Berrios (1-3, 6.23), 6:07 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM.
Wednesday: Michael Kopech (0-2, 6.97) vs. Yusei Kikuchi (3-0, 3.80), 12:07 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM.
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Source : https://chicago.suntimes.com/white-sox/2023/4/23/23695250/white-sox-eloy-jimenez-luis-robert-rays