By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — White Sox left fielder Eloy Jimenez will be out approximately 5-6 months after suffering a ruptured left pectoral tendon while trying to make a leaping grab at the wall on a home run on Wednesday.

General manager Rick Hahn said Jimenez’s injury will require surgery.

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“Obviously it’s a difficult loss for us. He’s an important part of our offense,” Hahn said.

Jimenez, 24, was expected to be a centerpiece of the team’s lineup, which already ranked at or near the top of several categories in 2020, but Hahn tried to sound an optimistic note about the depth of the team’s offensive roster.

“If there was one area of the team that perhaps could withstand a significant blow, it would arguably be on the offensive side of things, in the run scoring side of things,” Hahn said.

Jimenez left Wednesday’s game against the Oakland Athletics after he crashed into the outfield wall while tring to catch a hoe run by catcher Sean Murphy.

“Fundamentally, he got hurt trying to make a play. Was it the right decision to go for that ball, especially when put in the context of spring training? Perhaps not, but fundamentally you like the fact that he was trying to make a play,” Hahn said. “Ultimately, at some point in the much-distant future, we’ll talk to him and talk through a plan about perhaps making some better decisions, or what we are expected of him going forward from a defensive standpoint, but for now and for the immediate future it’s going to be about getting him healthy again.”

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Chicago is looking for a deep postseason run after it made the playoffs last year for first time since 2008. With Tim Anderson, AL MVP José Abreu and Yoán Moncada, it has one of the most potent lineups in baseball, but Jiménez’s prolonged absence leaves the team without one of its most dangerous hitters.

Jiménez, who throws and bats right-handed, was acquired in a July 2017 trade with the crosstown Cubs. He hit 31 homers in his first year in the majors in 2019. He batted .296 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs in 55 games during the pandemic-shortened season.

According to Sportsline, the loss of Jimenez is going to significantly hurt the White Sox’s chances of winning the division. Before Jimenez’s injury, Chicago had a 31 percent chance to take home the division title, but after, saw a 5.9 percent drop, down to 25.1 percent. The club’s overall postseason chances also took a hit, dropping from 85.9 percent to 80.1.

Jimenez is already a tremendous source of power at the plate, as he’s crushed 45 home runs in his first 177 big-league games and registers some of the highest exit velocities in baseball. Accordingly, he’s an important piece of the White Sox’s young core. He is not, however, much of a left fielder.

Not only does he give back runs with his lack of range, but he also risks injury in trying to make up for that lack of range with an occasional daredevilry that doesn’t quite suit him. As CBS Sports writer Matt Snyder chronicled last year, Jimenez in not all that many defensive innings has managed to crash and fall into a number of things that have injured him or at least have the potential to injure him.

The White Sox already were expecting to begin the regular season without outfielder Adam Engel, who suffered a hamstring injury on Saturday, which is expected to keep him out a couple weeks. He’ll likely start the regular season on the injured list, with a return in early April.

Hahn said he was not willing to discuss possible replacements for Jimenez from outside the organization. Utility man Leury Garcia and outfielders Billy Hamilton and Nick Williams are all options in left field in the immediate future. Hahn said rookie Andrew Vaughn, who was expected to begin the season as the team’s designated hitter, also might be an option after spending some time in left field while at the team’s alternative training site in Schaumburg last year.

“You’ll see him out there as much as possible in the last (exhibition) games,” manager Tony La Russa said.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CBS 2 Chicago Staff