Eloy Jimenez

Frank Thomas pitches wild idea to get Eloy Jiménez hitting well again

The Big Hurt said this unorthodox move worked for him twice when he went through extended struggles at the plate

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If you made a list of underperformers on the White Sox this season, Eloy Jiménez would likely slot in somewhere near the top. Hall of Famer Frank Thomas has an idea to get him going, though.

“I would just put him at the top of the lineup,” Thomas said on NBC Sports Chicago’s “White Sox Pregame Live” ahead of Sunday’s game against the Marlins. “Bat him leadoff, let him see some fastballs and do something different. I’m serious. Why not?”

Manager Pedro Grifol has used Tommy Pham at the top of the lineup recently, and he’s done ok there. This year Pham is slashing .268/.349/.345 as the leadoff man, with 19 runs scored in 43 games. Thomas’ point isn’t that Jiménez might do much better in the role– that’s irrelevant in a season where the White Sox’s playoff dreams died in May. His point is that the change might be a jolt to Jiménez’s system that could result in better at-bats. At the very least he’d get more opportunities to swing his way out of the extended slump.

The Big Hurt believes the move can work for Jiménez, because it worked for him back in his playing days. Thomas said twice in his career he went through extended struggles at the plate, and twice his manager moved him out of his typical run-producing spot in the order up to the two-hole.

“Guess what? I got four hits in both games,” Thomas said. “Sometimes you gotta shake guys up, like, ‘You’re not our fourth hitter.’”

Coming into Sunday’s game, Jiménez was hitting .150 with runners in scoring position. He was on pace to finish the year with just nine home runs and 23 RBI. Pair the poor production with his long history of injuries, and Jiménez is unlikely to garner any interest at the trade deadline. So the next best option is to get him going for next year.

“At this point, we gotta get him right,” Thomas said. “If not, it’s going to be a long winter for Eloy.”

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