Fans hoping for the White Sox two injured outfielders to make late-season returns don't have to stop crossing their fingers quite yet.
While it's possible that both Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert could miss the entirety of the 2021 campaign, it's simultaneously possible they're able to return late in the summer.
"It hasn't been ruled out," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said of Robert's potential late-season return Monday. "It just all depends on the healing timeframe here. And unfortunately, none of us are smart enough to know exactly how his body will respond to whatever is next. We'll just have to wait and see.
"It being early May, 12 weeks from now is early August, the earliest that he would conceivably begin baseball activities. And if we're fortunate that that's the timeline, then there certainly is the opportunity for him to return this year. If he doesn't hit the immediate, earliest part of that timeline? We're really just going to have to wait and see. It's speculative at this point."
That's obviously not that definitive, for the exact reasons Hahn laid out, but it at least provides a chance that the White Sox could get their center fielder, who will spend months recovering from a complete tear of his hip flexor, back for a potential playoff push.
Jiménez, too, has not been ruled out for the entire season just yet, the White Sox waiting until he gets deeper into his recovery from a ruptured pectoral tendon to make that determination.
"Eloy, he's progressing, he's feeling much better, and he's in a good mood, has a positive vibe," White Sox first baseman José Abreu said Tuesday. "And he has big faith that he's going to come back this season. ... I'm betting on him."
So while the team will obviously need to figure out a way to stay in contention without two of their most important hitters, the possibility exists, at the very least, that the duo could make a late-summer return and help the South Siders go from "staying afloat" to chasing a championship.
As late-season lifts go, it's hard to imagine a team getting a bigger one than that scenario would provide the White Sox. Bit as Hahn said, it's "wait and see" mode at the moment and likely will be for some time.