White Sox

Chris Sale likes atmosphere in White Sox dugout

chrissaleispissedoff.png

Chris Sale likes atmosphere in White Sox dugout

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Sale likes how he feels as well as the atmosphere in the White Sox dugout.

The left-hander allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings on Thursday as he made his second-to-last start of the spring. Sale earned a no decision as the White Sox lost to the Los Angeles Angels 6-5. Sale began his outing with five scoreless innings before yielding a three-run homer to Mike Trout and a solo shot to C.J. Cron in the sixth.

Sale said he feels great after he threw 88 pitches in the game and another 17 in the bullpen. He’s even happier with the dugout.

“Just the chatter in the dugout, not only from players, but from coaches, too,” Sale said. “Sometimes you can get in the dugout and it’s quiet and kind of stagnant. I haven’t really felt that. Especially in spring training, this can get kind of tough on guys and mentally draining. To be able to carry that energy in spring, it’s nice and it shows definitely.”

[MORE: Tim Anderson impressed White Sox in limited chances]

Sale intended to make Thursday’s start like a real game with a higher pitch count. Facing Trout and Albert Pujols ensured it would be for Sale, who pitched in simulated game and B games before he made his Cactus League debut on Saturday.

Sale retired both batters in their first two plate appearances, including a strikeout of Trout to start the fourth inning. He had only faced three over the minimum before the Angels started the sixth inning with three straight hits, the last being Trout’s homer to left field.

“My body feels good,” Sale said. “My arm feels great. That’s half the battle down here so with that and moving forward, I think we will all be prepared.

“All in all, it was a good day. The sixth inning got away a little bit, but that’s what we’re here for, to build up and use that as fuel.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Jimmy Rollins had a first-inning solo homer, his fourth of the spring. Brett Lawrie belted a two-run shot in the sixth inning, his third. The White Sox have blasted 36 homers in 22 games this spring.

The White Sox only hit 136 home runs in 2015, their fewest in a full season since 1992. They only hit 22 in camp last spring.

“It’s been a good sign,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You’re hopeful guys hit homers because you need to hit them to be able to compete in our division. I like the way it’s gone so far. But you never can tell.”

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

0219_alec_hansen.jpg
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

0218-dylan-covey.jpg
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.