White Sox

Ballantini: White Sox racing through the end of drills

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Ballantini: White Sox racing through the end of drills

Saturday, February 26, 2011
11:20 a.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. After a week or more of drills, no game action, and none of the wickedly delicious drama to spice life up as in previous camps, the Chicago White Sox got just what they ordered, turning forward time with the welcome distraction of hosting two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip in the clubhouse on Saturday.

I love baseball, Waltrip said. Just getting to peek inside the game is really you watch a game on TV and you dont really think about all the things that go into it, or whats behind the preparation. These guys have been really nice to me. They make me feel like Im part of the team. I really enjoy seeing this.

The feelings from White Sox players were mostly mutual. Sure, Chris Sale admitted no interest in NASCAR but that he tease-texted his huge fan of a father about Waltrips appearance, and Edwin Jackson joked around with Waltrip for five minutes without having an idea of who he was. But Mark Buehrle, A.J. Pierzynski, Gordon Beckham, Adam Dunn, and John Danks all planned on attending the Bashas Supermarkets 200 later on Saturday afternoon. Each player entertained Waltrip before Saturday mornings drillsthis in spite of the NASCAR veterans predilection toward the Atlanta Braves.

My favorite team has always been the Braves, Waltrip said. I grew up in Kentucky, and the only baseball we really got back when I was a kid was the Braves on TBS. I grew up a big Dale Murphy fan, and I remember what I was doing on the day Hank Aaron hit his historic 715th home run.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen bounded into the clubhouse and was stunned to see that Waltrip had been installed at a locker in an area all the way across the room from the White Soxs self-proclaimed Redneck Row (including Buehrle, Danks, Dunn, Jake Peavy). Guillen immediately started yelling, whats he doing over there, the rednecks are too far away!

Waltrip was startled, but impressed.

I loved his energy, you know? he said. Saturday morning, spring training, and he bops in here like were getting ready to play Game 7 of the World Series. Its pretty obvious why people love playing for him.

While the closest most White Sox had ever gotten to a racecar was Dunn, who said he sat in pit row once and had to have the pit crew tell him to get off the tires he was sitting on (they said, uh, you have about 45 seconds before we knock you over, according to Dunn), Waltrip could envision Ozzie getting behind the wheel.

Id like that, Waltrip said. We have the Richard Petty Driving Experience in NASCAR, where you actually get to show up and drive a car. When people get to do that its something that really gets their attention; well go out to Charlotte and run 185 mph and you put someone in a Richard Petty car and theyll run 140 and think theyre the next coming of Jeff Gordon. It would be the equivalent of me actually getting a ball out of the infield here and thinking Im ready for Opening Day.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

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.