White Sox

Adam Eaton's late grand slam helps White Sox top Indians

Adam Eaton's late grand slam helps White Sox top Indians

CLEVELAND -- Adam Eaton insists the bubble he blew before hitting a game-winning grand slam Wednesday night wasn’t the equivalent of his eyes lighting up at the sight of a fat pitch.

On the contrary, the White Sox outfielder said he was focused after looking bad on the previous two pitches of the at-bat.

But right before the point of impact, Eaton blew a perfect bubble and then matched it with a flawless swing on an 0-2 pitch from Cleveland Indians closer Cody Allen. The first grand slam of Eaton’s career helped the White Sox snap a seven-game losing streak as they topped the Indians 10-7 in front of 14,371 at Progressive Field. Dioner Navarro also had an RBI single during a five-run ninth inning against the American League Central’s top team.

“I think I was so flustered about my swing before, I was just trying to make contact, not to look really stupid, and apparently I blew a bubble,” Eaton said. “I’m all right with that.”

“It was a lot of fun. I give a lot of credit to the guys I had ahead of me to even put me in that position.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The White Sox had already rallied twice earlier in the contest before Todd Frazier started a one-out comeback in the ninth with an infield single off Allen. Trailing 7-5, the White Sox offense hadn’t done anything since the fourth inning as starter Carlos Carrasco and two relievers kept them quiet. But singles by Frazier and J.B. Shuck and a Tim Anderson walk loaded the bases. Dioner Navarro’s blooper to left hit off the glove of Jose Ramirez to make it a one-run game and brought up Eaton.

Three pitches later, the White Sox delivered the same kind of punch they’ve experienced too many times to count since May.

“I’ve felt one of those before,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “For us, we realize what it feels like, but we realize it can happen, too. I think that’s part of fighting all the way through to the ninth inning and not giving it to them. You make them earn it and tonight we just fought our way back where we get something and it goes in your favor.”

The White Sox need a lot more like this one to go in their favor and realistically don’t have the time. Though they have winnable upcoming series at home against Oakland and Philadelphia, the White Sox remain nine back in the race for the second wild-card spot. They also sit at 57-62 with 43 games to play.

Despite their extremely long odds, the White Sox refuse to give in. That was made clear early when it looked like the offense would go nowhere against Carrasco, who struck out four of the first six he faced and had a 2-0 lead.

But Shuck singled to start the third inning and Anderson blasted his seventh homer, a two-run shot off the left-field foul pole to tie the score. His ninth-inning walk was also the fifth Anderson has drawn in 48 plate appearances after he took only two in his first 203.

Down 4-2, the White Sox pulled ahead in the fourth inning as Frazier doubled in two and scored the go-ahead run later when the Indians botched a rundown. But Carrasco didn’t budge from there as he retired nine of the last 11 he faced.

“Very fun to play in that kind of game, especially when Eaton hit the grand slam,” Anderson said. “It was a big moment for us.”

It was also quite a big bubble, though Eaton did it involuntarily and teammates told him about it later. He also shot down the notion that Allen left the pitch too far up and the bubble was a reaction to seeing a pitch in the zone.

“It wasn’t hanging,” Eaton said. “Concentration you do some things you’re not thinking about, and mine must be blowing a bubble, so we’ll take it."

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

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AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.