White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez showed some of his massive potential as a rookie with a 31-home run season despite playing only 122 games.
There’s still a long way to go for him to become the player the White Sox think he will be, though. He had just a .315 on-base percentage and struggled in left field.
Instead of recuperating for the upcoming season, Jimenez is heading home to play some winter ball. He will debut for Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League this weekend.
This is the third straight year Jimenez will play in his home country for the winter. Two seasons ago he hit 11 extra base hits in 19 games with a 1.120 OPS. Last winter, Jimenez hit .448 with a 1.259 OPS in eight games. He could put up more video game numbers this season.
Jimenez heads to the Dominican fresh off his 23rd birthday (which was Wednesday), but manager Rick Renteria prefers Jimenez take more of a break. Renteria told that to reporters on Tuesday at the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in the West Loop, where he was serving Thanksgiving dinners.
“For me I would rather just have a little break, put himself ready for the next season,” Renteria said. “But this kid is not going to stop until he reaches what he wants to be.”
Renteria did say he wants to see Jimenez continue to work on his outfield defense, but he remains confident that Jimenez will come around on that front.
“I think, Eloy, in terms of just playing in general, whether it’s here or in winter ball, defending is the biggest thing for us that we want him to continue to work on,” Renteria said. “We talk about that a lot. I know a lot of people have questions about that. I don’t. I’m one of the ones that doesn’t. I’m in there with him in the dugout watching him work on the field. This young man is going to be a really, really outstanding Major League Baseball player on both sides of the baseball.
“I think that as we move forward you don’t usually have a lot of guys play winter ball, but he’s a guy that just loves playing.”