White Sox

Chris Sale chased early as White Sox fall to Twins

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Chris Sale chased early as White Sox fall to Twins

Chris Sale is thrilled the White Sox don’t have to face the Twins the rest of the season. 

The Sox ace turned in another rough start against Minnesota on Sunday, only going three innings and giving up six earned runs in a 7-0 loss. 

Against the Twins this year, Sale has a 7.36 ERA over 33 innings compared to a 2.73 ERA against everyone else over 154.2 innings. 

“They just have my number,” Sale said. “Sometimes it’s not what you want to do but you just get beat some times. I haven’t done too much research on if they do or don’t, but it’s a good team over there. They are in the position they are in for a reason.

The troubling theme of falling behind early for the White Sox continued on Sunday. After a Miguel Sano RBI single in the first, Torii Hunter launched a three-run home run off Sale just a few batters later to make it 4-0 Minnesota in a hurry.

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“It seems like he’s getting younger,” Sale said of Hunter. “That’s why he is who he is. You know, it’s tough. He’s a tough at-bat. He’s still a great outfielder. He’s not an easy out by any means. You just have to bear down there and I can’t leave a fastball there for him.”

Hunter then hit an RBI single in the third inning off Sale, and Eddie Rosario followed up with another RBI single of his own to extend the Twins’ lead to 6-0.

“I don’t know if the approach is (different),” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of the Twins. “Everybody is trying to swing early and stay away from the slider and change up. They just seem to be on it more than everything else.”

The Sox aren’t sure if tipping is the issue when Sale faces the Twins but the left-hander and his catcher, Tyler Flowers, are looking into it.

“That's what we're trying to look at,” Flowers said. “It kind of feels that way, but I don't know. If it is, then it's our job to figure it out and fix it.”

Sale did record two strikeouts, giving him 250 on the season. It’s the most for a White Sox pitcher in a season in 103 years (Ed Walsh was the last). 

Frankie Montas relieved Sale after his three innings of work and kept the damage at a minimum. In his third major league outing, Montas went three innings, striking out five batters and only surrendering an RBI single to Joe Mauer in the sixth inning. The rookie right-hander pitched himself out of a jam in the sixth, striking out Sano and Trevor Plouffe to end a bases-loaded threat.

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Kyle Gibson continued his dominance over the White Sox. The right-hander went 7 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering five hits and striking out five. Coming into today’s game Gibson was 3-0 against the South Siders with a 2.60 ERA in five career starts. 

“He had super sink going, I know that,” Flowers said of Gibson. “He seemed to have pretty good command of his changeup-split thing. He was doing a good job working that off his sinker. He threw enough breaking balls in there for strikes.”

Micah Johnson’s double in the sixth inning was the only extra base hit of the day for the Sox. 

The reality is starting to set in for the White Sox and their slim-to-none playoff hopes for 2015. Sale and the Sox aren’t mailing in the rest of the season but now they have to start playing for each other as they finish a disappointing 2015 season. 

“You come to the park every day to win,” Sale said. “We are competitors. It doesn’t matter if we are down 10 runs, up 10 runs, in or out of it. We still have a job to do and that’s come in and compete. It’s all we can do at this point. We are just playing for pride. Just suck it up and play as hard as you can.”

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.