White Sox

Alex Rios kept peace when Chris Sale went to Royals clubhouse

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Alex Rios kept peace when Chris Sale went to Royals clubhouse

Chris Sale didn’t deny on Friday that he went to the Royals clubhouse in anger after Thursday’s brawl and several sources said Alex Rios maintained the peace.

One of five players ejected from a contest the Kansas City Royals won 3-2 in 13 innings, Sale traveled the main tunnel from the home clubhouse on the third base side over to the visiting clubhouse on the first base side.

Reportedly, Sale’s intent was to confront Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura, who exchanged words with White Sox leadoff hitter Adam Eaton at the conclusion of the seventh inning. Even though he wasn’t there, Kansas City pitcher Edinson Volquez, who also was ejected, said teammates confirmed Sale knocked on the clubhouse door. At some point, Rios, who played with Sale from 2010-13, intervened and calmed down the three-time All-Star.

[MORE: Brawl builds bonds: White Sox look for a spark]

“All emotions are running high at that point,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I just found out about it. You got to have a conversation and you move on from there. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and nothing happened.”

Sale was asked about the incident and said he wants to move on — “We’re not boxers, we’re baseball players,” he said. The left-hander said on Thursday night he didn’t even know he had been ejected from the game until an inning later. Asked about potential suspensions stemming from the incident, Sale said the club would handle it and move forward.

“I mean, there’s really nothing to talk about,” Sale said. “It is what it is. What’s done is done. It’s all in the past. Baseball’s a day-to-day sport. Every day is a new day. So anything that happened yesterday, we’re ready to win a ballgame today and we’re just ready to put this all behind us. Come in every day ready to win and that’s what we’re ready to do.”

This isn’t the first time Sale has been attached to a high-profile incident.

Last September, benches cleared after Sale hit Detroit’s Victor Martinez in a strange series of events in which the pitcher insinuated Martinez was cheating.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

During the 2013 season, Sale also hit Prince Fielder with a pitch during a tense July game in Detroit in which he later apologized to both the batter and Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

Jeff Samardzija, Lorenzo Cain and Ventura were also ejected from Thursday night’s game. Tensions have been brewing between the two clubs since Opening Day when Samardzija hit Cain with a pitch after giving up a home run to Mike Moustakas. The two clubs have combined to hit eight batters in their first four meetings of the season.

“There were other guys there to cool (Sale) down and nothing happened,” Robin Ventura said. “I think those are things that guys react and are emotional and other guys are able to head it off and do it just like guys do on the field. There are guys out there trying to make it peaceful, and there were guys that weren’t. Everybody reacts different in those situations.”

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.