Jimenez Adamant He Can Become A Better Defender

By 670 The Score
CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- A day after landing on the blooper reel as he found himself entangled in the protective netting down the foul line on a defensive gaffe in a loss to the Brewers on Thursday evening, White Sox left fielder Eloy Jimenez remained adamant that he can turn himself into a better and respectable defensive player.

"I am motivated a lot to become a complete player," Jimenez said before the White Sox hosted the Indians on Friday. "People don't think I can play defense. So this is something I take as a challenge. I know I can play out there, so this is something I am very motivated to do. I want to do that first and stop the people talking. I will go to do more work and play hard."

Jimenez's blunder led to an inside-the-park homer for Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich on Thursday. Combined with his recent collision with the left-field wall that left him light-headed, it also renewed questions about the 23-year-old Jimenez's long-term viability in the outfield.

The White Sox understand keeping Jimenez healthy is of the utmost importance, but manager Rick Renteria doesn't worry too much on that front.

"I am not concerned about that," Renteria responded when asked about the possibility of Jimenez hurting himself on difficult plays. "There are certainly multiple things that can happen -- running into walls and falling into the stands. He could slide on catches and run into other players. He is a big man. I know our staff is doing everything to keep these guys as fit as possible. I am not too concerned right now."

Jimenez is an offensive force, having hit 31 homers in 122 games as a rookie in 2019, and left field is really the only spot for him to play in 2020 due to the White Sox's roster construction. Veteran designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion is signed to a one-year deal, and catcher Yasmani Grandal also needs some at-bats at DH when James McCann spots him behind the plate.

Jimenez acknowledged he hears the criticism about his defense.

"Yes, it bothers me a little bit," Jimenez said. "That is just baseball, and there is nothing I can do about it. I try to be the best I can for my team. Things are going to happen. Even great players have bad days. For me, I just learn from these experiences. I just must forget about it and keep moving forward."

White Sox first-base coach and outfielder instructor Daryl Boston works regularly with Jimenez, helping reinforce the fundamentals of his position through countless hours of work.

"He is a young man who hears things that are said about him," Renteria said. "I wish there were more things said about the nice plays and things he is doing out there. I see the good routes and catches. Nobody really talks about those things. In regard to how he is dealing with it, I think he is dealing with it fine. He continues to work hard, and his confidence will not wane. My job is to continue to encourage him so he keeps his work ethic up. He is still very capable of improving. He is young and will continue to understand what he can and can't do. He will better understand the limitations and strengths he has. We look beyond this moment and map out a course that can help him become as good an outfielder as possible."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.