MILWAUKEE -- Just days before the MLB trade deadline, the Chicago White Sox added a bat in the form of injured left fielder/designated hitter Eloy Jimenez.
Jimenez was activated before Monday's game at the Kansas City Royals. To make room for Jimenez, the White Sox optioned infielder Jake Burger to Triple-A Charlotte.
"I feel really excited to be back with the boys," Jimenez said Monday.
Jimenez, 24, has been out since spring training with a torn left pectoral after attempting to catch a ball over the outfield wall.
"It was a long process but I'm finally back. I feel 200% right now," he said.
The White Sox have thrived even without Jimenez in the lineup.
"The fair thing for him is to feel like 'let me take my at-bats and help out,'" White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Sunday. "Reports have been full speed ahead."
In other words, La Russa doesn't want Jimenez to put too much pressure on himself as he takes his first at-bats of the season. The team has an 8.5-game lead in the AL Central heading into their game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday night.
"It's one of the best performances by a team that loses key guys, starting with him," La Russa said. "[Jimenez is] an RBI machine -- and here we are where we are."
The Sox are also awaiting the return of center fielder Luis Robert from a right hip flexor injury. He's a couple weeks behind Jimenez in his rehab. The team already lost second baseman Nick Madrigal (torn right hamstring) for the season. None of those injuries have slowed them down.
The organization has benefited from those filling in for Jimenez including Yermin Mercedes early in the season and fellow rookie Andrew Vaughn of late. The former player is in the minors right now but the latter has a .949 OPS in July.
"You get what you earn," La Russa said of Vaughn. "Eloy being here isn't going to take at-bats away from Andrew."
Jimenez is expected to get the majority of his at-bats at DH while Vaughn will continue to play in left, though La Russa didn't commit to a set strategy. Jimenez isn't known as a great defensive outfielder though he has gotten time in the field during his rehab process.
Jimenez should help the team against right-handed pitching. His slugging percentage and OPS are both higher against righties than lefties and the Sox have struggled against some of the better righties in the league. They rank 28th in OPS against right-handers they've faced on plus-.500 teams.
"I think we'll just see for ourselves," said La Russa.