White Sox

Carlos Rodon’s flexibility allows White Sox to consider extra rest for Chris Sale

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Carlos Rodon’s flexibility allows White Sox to consider extra rest for Chris Sale

ST. LOUIS — By skipping Carlos Rodon’s turn in the rotation, the White Sox may also be able to give Chris Sale an extra day of rest.

Manager Robin Ventura said Wednesday he and pitching coach Don Cooper were considering bumping Sale’s next start to Monday against Toronto and starting Rodon Sunday against Baltimore, affording Sale five days of rest between starts. Sale is healthy and didn’t come to Ventura and Cooper requesting the extra day, but the White Sox feel it could be beneficial to the left-hander who tied Pedro Martinez’s major league record for most consecutive starts with 10 or more strikeouts Tuesday night.

“This is just Coop and I kicking it around to take care of him and make sure he’s fresh and keep him going the same way,” Ventura said. “We’ve spent enough time looking at Carlos, inserting him and moving him and everything else and you want to do that with Chris. He deserves it.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: The remarkable stats behind Chris Sale's dominance]

Sale, who has a 2.87 ERA and a major league-leading 141 strikeouts, has averaged 116 pitches and a little under 7 2/3 innings over his last eight starts. Thanks to an off day Monday, Sale went five days between starts leading into his 12-strikeout masterpiece against St. Louis Tuesday night.

Ventura likes having the option — thanks to off days and the plan to periodically rest Rodon — of giving Sale that extra day, if possible.

“When we’ve done it for him, it sounds crazy but he’s always bounced back and pitched maybe a little better,” Ventura said. “That probably sounds odd but he has looked stronger and fresher when he gets an extra day.”

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get a Chris Sale jersey right here]

What isn’t part of the decision is Sale’s impending All-Star berth, and he’s made a strong case to start the game in Cincinnati July 14. His schedule isn’t ideal, though, no matter when he starts — if he goes Sunday or Monday, his final start before the All-Star break would be July 10 or 11 against the Cubs.

Ventura acknowledged Sale deserves to pitch in the All-Star Game, but lining him up to have a better chance of appearing at Great American Ballpark isn’t the team’s focus.

“For the importance of the game they probably want the best guys to pitch and he’s one of them,” Ventura said. “But our decisions are based on us and where we’re at. Because Carlos has had extended time off you can slip him Sunday or Monday.”

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.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.