Jimenez focused on being the White Sox's right fielder - not DH

Hired to replace Tony La Russa as White Sox manager in early November, Pedro Grifol promised many things.

Along with preparation, constant communication with his players topped the list.

"That's a big part of my leadership," Grifol said. "It's going to be a big part of our staff, the way we communicate and how often."

Grifol will have plenty of time to talk with Eloy Jimenez once spring training gets going next month at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.

The two have already been in touch about Jimenez's role this season.

With Andrew Benintendi now the starting left fielder after signing a five-year, $75 million contract, Jimenez lost his preferred position and is expected to be the White Sox's regular designated hitter this season.

Grifol did say playing Jimenez in right field is an option after Benintendi was plucked off the free-agent market, and he was more specific about the plan during a weekend appearance on 670-AM.

"I'm talking about maybe seeing him (in right field) a day or two a week if possible and keeping him athletic and keeping him working on the defensive side," Grifol said. "I know that helps on the offensive side as well."

Presumably, top prospect Oscar Colas heads into training camp as the Sox's starting right fielder.

On a Zoom call Monday afternoon, Jimenez made it quite clear he would much rather play right field than DH this season.

"We talked and (Grifol) said it would be more in right field than left field because Benintendi is here now," Jimenez said. "But we didn't talk about DH a lot."

It's a touchy subject, so maybe Grifol is going to ease his way in.

But much like last season, and every year since joining the White Sox's starting lineup in 2019, Jimenez considers himself a two-way player.

"Last year, when I was DHing more than playing the outfield, it was because I got surgery," Jimenez said. "And I understand that. But this year, I've been working really hard to play the outfield more than DH. So I don't really think that I'm going to accept it because if I'm working hard, I'm going to get better and I want to play in the outfield."

Last April, Jimenez tore a tendon behind his right knee running to first base and missed more than two months.

In 2021, he tried making a catch over the fence late in spring training, tore his left pectoral tendon and was out the first four months of the year.

Jimenez is the Sox's best power hitter and they need him to stay healthy and locked in the middle of the order.

Serving as the full-time designated hitter would undoubtedly help keep Jimenez off the injured list.

Happiness is the other consideration, and the always-upbeat Jimenez only sours when asked to DH.

"I'm really preparing myself right now to play outfield," he said.

The 26-year-old Jimenez did play 103 games in right field over five seasons as a minor leaguer with the White Sox and Cubs.

"It feels way different because most of the contact in left field, you don't know where it's going to go," Jimenez said. "Right field is a lot different because every ball the right-handed hitter hits most of the time has some backspin. It's way better being there."

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