Timing not yet right for Chisox prospect Jimenez, sent down

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Eloy Jimenez admits he was pressing in his bid to make the opening day roster of the Chicago White Sox.

“I accept it and I’m going to work hard,” Jimenez said Saturday of his demotion to minor league camp earlier in the week. “I tried to compete. They gave me the chance to be the best player I can be.”

“I tried to do too much. I think that’s why I don’t have the good results,” he said.

Jimenez, the centerpiece of a trade made in 2017 that sent pitcher Jose Quintana across town to the Cubs, has been the subject of speculation as to his arrival in the big leagues.

The 22-year-old outfielder, ranked as the No. 3 prospect overall by Baseball America and MLB.com, wasn’t called up a year ago despite a monster season split between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte — where he’ll start the 2019 season. He hit a combined .337 with 22 homers and 28 doubles in 456 at-bats.

He will likely get the major league call in late April, at which time the White Sox will gain an extra season of contract control over him because of service time.

This spring, Jimenez hit .154 with two doubles and a home run in Cactus League play. He struck out nine times and did not draw a walk, going 4 for 26 overall.

Manager Rick Renteria said making the move on Wednesday, with two weeks left in spring training, should allow Jimenez to get his timing down. That was something Jimenez said was an issue for the first time in his young career.

“We want him to get as many at-bats as possible, continue to work out in the outfield,” Renteria said. “Here we were doing approximately every other day or every third day, and he needs to get his timing back on track.”

Ervin Santana, meanwhile, pitched in a minor league game Friday against San Diego and is lined up to start on Wednesday against Arizona.

“It was very good,” Santana said Saturday. “It was fun, doing what I love to do.”

Santana, a late signee who is likely to join the White Sox rotation early in the season if all goes well, threw five innings and faced Manny Machado five times in the simulated game.

“It was fun, you know. I go, ‘You, every time I have to face you?’ He’s like, ‘Yep.’ I got a broken bat, a couple groundballs and two flyballs. He’s getting his timing, I’m getting my timing,” Santana said.

The 36-year-old Santana was an All-Star in 2017 when he posted a 3.28 ERA and helped the Minnesota Twins to a surprise berth in the AL wild-card game. But a finger injury derailed last season, limiting him to 24 innings.

The right-hander said he is pain-free this spring.

“I feel like myself again. I don’t have any restrictions,” he said.