White Sox

Alexei Ramirez meets with potential suitors, still open to White Sox

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Alexei Ramirez meets with potential suitors, still open to White Sox

BOCA RATON, Fla. — He’s open to a reunion with the White Sox, but Alexei Ramirez won’t wait around for them, either.

The free agent shortstop has begun to explore his market as he’s set to meet with two potential suitors at the General Manager’s meetings on Tuesday, according to a major league source.

The San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays are among the clubs believed to be interested in Ramirez, who lives about an hour away from the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Miami. Ramirez became a free agent at 11:01 p.m. CST on Friday after the White Sox — his only team for the past eight seasons — declined his $10 million club option last Wednesday.

Though the White Sox sound as if they’re ready to entrust the job to Tyler Saladino, GM Rick Hahn said Monday they haven’t ruled out bringing back Ramirez, who hit .249/.285/.357 with 10 homers and 62 RBI in 622 plate appearances.

[RELATED - White Sox GM Rick Hahn: Alexei Ramirez is still in play]

“We haven’t closed the door on potentially bringing Alexei back,” Hahn said. “He served us extremely well for eight years in a White Sox uniform and obviously middle infield is a position of interest for us going into the offseason. We’ll continue talking to his guy. Nothing has been shut for the future just yet.”

Hahn said last week’s move partly was about cost — that the White Sox didn’t want to pay Ramirez $10 million this season.

An All-Star in 2014, Ramirez was weighed down by personal issues for the first three months of the season and produced one of the worst performances in baseball. He rebounded nicely in the second half, but still was only worth minus-0.5 Wins Above Replacement.

But given his second-half performance, the White Sox potentially could bring Ramirez back on a lesser deal. As much as Ramirez desires to return to the only baseball home he knows, there’s some belief the veteran will find far too rich a market to accept a discounted deal.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“He’s a proven commodity and (you have) a decent idea of what you’re going to get going forward,” Hahn said Monday. “Again, it’s a fairly scarce position, so I’m sure his market will be strong.”

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.