The White Sox brought the A-team lineup to Sloan Park on Tuesday for the first Cactus League game against the crosstown Cubs.
Veterans Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia made the 45-minute trip across the valley, along with young players such as Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson and one of the top prospects, Luis Robert.
The only one missing was Eloy Jimenez, the guy everyone at Sloan Park hoped to see.
Sox fans wanted to see if Jimenez was the real deal. Cubs’ fans wanted to get another glimpse at the can’t-miss prospect management traded away. It would have been a perfect day, watching Jimenez face Jon Lester on a cool but sun-kissed afternoon in Mesa.
The debate over the biggest Cubs-Sox trade since Sammy Sosa and George Bell switched uniforms at the end of spring in 1992 would have begun anew.
But the argument over who won the deal was muted for a day as Jimenez was forced to sit out the game with a sore left knee, a minor injury the Sox were being extra cautious about this early in spring training.
The Cubs have no regrets over the trade deadline deal that brought Jose Quintana to the North Side, even while knowing Jimenez could become one of the game’s brightest stars if he lives up to his potential. They desperately needed another starter for the second half, and a long-term solution if Jake Arrieta left, as expected.
Quintana filled both needs, and the notion of watching Jimenez become a star on the other side of town wasn’t a factor.
“You can’t let that get in the way of a trade that makes sense for you in the short term and in the long term,” President Theo Epstein said Tuesday during the Cubs’ 6-5 victory over the Sox. “It’s not the most comfortable thing in the world, but that’s never going to be an impediment.”
Last year at this time, Jimenez was a non-roster invitee to Cubs camp, impressing manager Joe Maddon with his personality as well as with his bat.
“I liked him a lot,” Maddon said. “Thought he was a bright kid, very engaging conversationally, inquisitive. … Coming from the Dominican, normally the kids aren’t that well-versed in English and at that age that advanced.
Eloy Jimenez may be best White Sox hitting prospect since Frank Thomas
Chicago Tribune | Feb 28