By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — The White Sox could add a potent bat to the lineup before the end of the month, even without having to swing a trade, as left fielder Eloy Jimenez prepares to begin a rehab assignment on Friday with Class A Winston-Salem, and hopes to return to the major league club by the end of the month.

Jimenez has been out since March 24, when he suffered a torn pectoral tendon in a spring training game against the Oakland Athletics, when he collided with the outfield wall while leaping to try to catch a home run ball.

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The team originally expected Jimenez to be out 5 to 6 months, but Jimenez said Thursday he hopes to be back with the in a few weeks, which would be only 4 months after his injury.

The White Sox have not announced an official timeline for Jimenez to return to the majors, but he said he thinks he can be back with the team by the end of July.

“I feel really good. Right now I’m feeling really excited, and I feel really good, because the team is still winning without a couple good players,” he said. “I feel happy for them, and I feel happy that I’m going to be back and help the team.”

Jimenez was cleared to resume baseball activities on June 14, less than three months after his surgery to repair the torn pectoral tendon. He said he feels better now than he did during spring training.

“I feel 110%, let’s say 200%. So I feel pretty normal. I feel like I can and do my swing; finish with one hand, two hands, whatever, and it’s not going to hurt,” he said.

The right-handed slugger is coming off an impressive 2020 season when he won an American League Silver Slugger award, after slashing .296/.332/.559, and finishing second on the team in OPS (.890), doubles (14), home runs (14), and RBI (41).

When he does return to the team, Jimenez likely will spend a lot of time at designated hitter. Rookie Andrew Vaughn has impressed with his play in left field, after being converted from a first baseman after the injury to Jimenez.

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Due to his poor defense, a move to DH has always seemed likely for Jimenez, especially given this wasn’t his first injury while trying to make a play in the outfield, but he said he still hopes to play in the outfield.

“I can do whatever, but I still don’t like to DH. So keep that in mind,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez said his latest injury won’t change his style of play.

“I’m going to keep playing hard, just try to get better and better and better every day, and put the work [in], but I’m going to keep playing hard,” Jimenez said.

The White Sox have managed to build a commanding 8-game lead in the American League Central despite the injury to Jimenez and other serious injuries to other starters, including center fielder Luis Robert, second baseman Nick Madrigal, and most recently catcher Yasmani Grandal.

Madrigal is done for the season with a hamstring tear.

Grandal had surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn tendon in his left knee. He originally was expected to be out 4 to 6 weeks before learning he’d need surgery, and the White Sox have yet to update the timetable for his return, but still expect him back before the end of he season.

Robert suffered a torn hip flexor on May 2 while running to first base in a game against the Cleveland Indians, and was expected to be out 12 to 16 weeks before resuming baseball activities. However, he was cleared to ramp up baseball activities on June 29, and could begin his own minor league rehab assignment by late July.

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“I’ve seen him, he’s going to be back sooner than later, too,” Jimenez said.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff