White Sox

Chris Sale: White Sox ‘got bold-faced lied to’ on Adam LaRoche situation

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Chris Sale: White Sox ‘got bold-faced lied to’ on Adam LaRoche situation

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Sale addressed the media on Friday morning to talk about the surprising retirement of Adam LaRoche and Tuesday’s morning meeting. Here’s a transcript of what the four-time All-Star pitcher said.

Question: Can you talk about Tuesday’s meeting and your interaction with Kenny Williams?

Chris Sale: Came in, team meeting, just trying to find some common ground and clearly it didn’t get there. It’s just one of the things that kind of happens in the game. You’re not always going to see eye to eye with everyone you work with and everybody within the organization and you move on.

Q: Talked to Kenny since that meeting?

A: I have not.

Q: You said common ground — did he come down here saying ‘We’d like to compromise on the new policy’ or is it, ‘This is the new policy’?

A: Yeah well, Kenny said quite a few things, contradicting statements a couple times. He came to the players, said it was the coaches. Went to the coaches, said it was the players and then came in here and told us it was the owner. So, we’re not exactly — who it’s coming from, where it originated from. That’s why we’re still trying to figure out where it all came from.

Q: If this happened before spring training and talked about it with the players do you think it would have had a better reception? 

A: No doubt. I think if the right person had handled it I think it would have been completely different. This isn’t us rebelling against rules. This is kind of us rebelling against BS, plain and simple. It’s not the fact we have a problem with the rules. We have to wear suits on the plane, we all dress up nice, carry ourselves in professional manners. But when it comes to what goes on in the clubhouse, the right person has to handle that and that’s Robin (Ventura). He’s the top, he’s the leader of this clubhouse ultimately and if there’s something that needs to be said in here he can say it and it’s taken with respect because he’s fighting with us. And quite honestly, he has taken heat for us before that he doesn’t deserve. So we have faith in him and we trust him.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Upset White Sox players considered boycotting game after Adam LaRoche retirement]

Q: Were you pretty outspoken in the meeting?

A: It’s neither here nor there. That’s not the issue and even the story that everyone is reading isn’t the issue. We have a much bigger problem on our hands than Kenny coming in here and kicking out a kid and Roachy retiring. That’s the unfortunate part of all of this. But at the end of the day it wasn’t the right thing. There was no problem in here. We were rolling. We had a team coming together with new guys getting acquainted and playing well, no hiccups, nothing. We’re a steam engine going full steam ahead and kind of derailed it. We had some positive energy going. There was absolutely no problem in here whatsoever with anyone and he kind of created a problem.

Q: Can one meeting and an apology turn things around?

A: I mean, we’re still missing a teammate plain and simple. Like I said, there was no issue before and we’re still trying to find out what the truth is.

Q: What’s the bigger problem?

A: Lying, plain and simple. We got bold-faced lied to by someone we’re supposed to be able to trust. You can’t come tell the players it was the coaches and tell the coaches it’s the players and then come in and say something completely different. If we’re all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen. Like I said, we’re not rebelling against the rules. It has nothing to do with the rules. It’s a much deeper issue and all this negative attention around so much positivity that was here before. We were rolling. We were having a great time. You guys have seen it. The drills are crisp, everything was clicking. And it just took someone to come in here and throw a wrench in the plans.

Q: Why have these (jerseys) up here?

A: Because Drake is honestly one of the best kids I have ever met. You can ask anybody, anybody, that has ever played with Adam. And I think that’s another part of the issue. We’re not talking about some guy and his kid. We’re talking about Adam LaRoche. I dare you to find something negative about that guy from anybody he has played with or come across. Same thing with Drake. This kid is wise beyond his years. He’s mature beyond his years and quite honestly he was a blast to have around. He was, for the lack of a better term, our team mascot. He brought just as much energy to this clubhouse as anybody and it’s a hard pill to swallow for someone outside of the clubhouse to tell us what’s going to happen. We don’t go up to his office and tell him how to do his job.

Q: There’s reports that players complained about (Drake) to some extent?

A: I believe if a player had a problem with it they would have come to Adam or at least taken it to Robin. I think Robin was the right person to handle this and he was handcuffed.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Adam LaRoche retired after White Sox asked him to limit son's time with team]

Q: What are your concerns about how this affects the team moving forward?

A: We’re missing two big pieces to our puzzle, plain and simple. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s going to be the main reason, but he’s definitely going to be missed and we’re not going to get him back.

Q: How frustrated are you that this happened at this point in time?

A: It’s extremely frustrating, especially when people tell you we’re here to win a championship and then stuff like this happens. If we’re truly here to win a championship and come together and play as a team and win as a team, these issues don’t come up. It’s just unfortunate. Somebody walked out those doors the other day and it was the wrong guy, plain and simple.

Q: Do you have more admiration now for Adam than you had even before?

A: No doubt. How can you not? Like I said, this is a bigger issue than being told that his son can’t be around and him walking away. I think that’s what everyone’s focus is. Everyone is focusing on the story that’s printed, but it’s a much deeper issue than that. I commend him, I stand behind him clearly 100 percent in his decision. Would I love to have him back? Absolutely. No doubt. And I think anybody in here would take him back in a heartbeat, would love to have him back in here. But at the same time, you have to respect a man that stands by his word and is not afraid to stand up in what he believes in.

Q: How do you move on as a team, organization?

A: We just keep trucking. We try to get back to where we were before this mess started. We were rolling. We had positive energy in here. Nobody saw anything as a distraction until all this happened. We just try to pick up the pieces, collect it all and put it back together and keep trucking.

Q: Can LaRoche come back?

A: I don’t know. I’m certainly staying optimistic about it.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Players supported Adam LaRoche, son in Tuesday meeting]

Q: Have you spoken to him? 

A: I have. I didn’t want to step on his toes clearly, but like I said, we would all love to have him back but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.

Q: The biggest issue is the trust issue and being told a lie from Kenny?

A: Yeah. When there’s a problem, you get to the source and find out what it is. We’ve been told three different stories. We don’t know what avenue to go down or who to believe from who it originated from.

Q: Three different stories as to where it originated?

A: Yeah. First it was the players that said something then it was the coaches that said something and now it’s the owner said something.

Q: And Kenny has given you all three stories?

A: Yes. Now we’re just as confused as you guys. You guys are looking at me like I have 17 eyes up here, but I’m not saying anything that isn’t the truth. I have no reason to. There’s no reason for me to sit here and lie about something that I witnessed and was a part of.

Q: Where does Kenny stand now with the guys in the clubhouse?

A: We don’t need to get into that. I’m not here to be disrespectful to anybody and call names. But I am here to state the facts and you guys got them.

Q: Hoping Mr. (Jerry) Reinsdorf might talk to you guys?

A: Yeah, I think that’s the ultimate goal is to talk to him and speak to someone with a level head and try to find some common ground, try to see where this came from. Jerry is a very understanding person and I think if we can get too him and speak to him and have an adult conversation. I think we’ll be able to figure some things out and iron out the creases.

Q: Why can’t a grievance be filed?

A: I don’t know anything about that. That’s really none of my concern. My concern is this team and the well-being of this team. I have a lot of time invested in this team, the whole blood, sweat and tears thing. I want to win and I think all of you guys know that and everyone in here knows that. With the things that are going on, that’s going to be a much harder task to accomplish, plain and simple.

Q: Will you continue to feel like a leader and somebody that has to do that for this team?

A: I believe so, yes. That’s the position I’m in. I have to speak for the people who don’t have voices. I have to speak for my teammates now. I have to speak for my teammates in the future. This is something that needs to be taken care of for the well being of the White Sox. Not just Adam. Not just me. This is something that could have a lasting impression for years to come and could affect future teams. I’m not a fan of that. If we are truly trying to win a championship, there’s no room for this kind of stuff.

Q: Can this hurt the team in free agency in the future?

A: I don’t see how it couldn’t. I don’t see why someone with a handful of offers on the table could look and say you know what, that’s a mess I want to go into. No. It’s unfortunate for everyone else involved because this ultimately comes down to the White Sox. This is Rick (Hahn) and Robin and Jerry and the players and the coaching staff are probably going to get heat for something they don’t deserve. Rick, I truly believe is trying to build a winning team. We have a lot of respect for that guy. We have a lot of respect for Robin because he’s leading the charge. We just don’t have room for outside distractions.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Q: This will be looked at as a coup, Kenny versus the team, the team versus Kenny. Is that an accurate portrayal?

A: I don’t think anyone in here has a problem with anybody else in the organization.

Q: The bottom line is Adam was promised he could have Drake around?

A: It was in his contract just like anything else. I think they would have had a better job saying, ‘Hey you can bring your son, but you have to play for free this year.’ I think that would have gone over a little bit better. It was as much of a guarantee as anything else.

Q: Is it more difficult for you to do the things you need to do to get ready with this?

A: Absolutely not. I have a team I have to stand by. I still have a job to do. It’s not these guys fault. I’m not going to take it out on them. We all have the same idea. And we are trying to achieve that. I can’t reiterate enough. It’s not us rebelling against rules. It’s us rebelling against things that don’t have a place in the clubhouse.

Q: Different story if Adam hits 30 home runs last year?

A: That’s another thing too. For us, it just seems like him trying to make rules just to make rules. Unfortunately, it shook out the way it did. It’s unfortunate. It really is. We are trying to win, we really are. We have a good thing going on in here, we really do. We have great guys and a great team. We just have got something in the way.

Q: Would this impact the way you look at staying in the organization?

A: I’m going to be here for a while. I still have a lot of time left in this uniform. I’m not shying away from playing as hard as I can in this uniform. This doesn’t have anything to do with my teammates or the organization. I’m still going to fight to my last breath for this team and for my teammates. But on the flip side I have to fight for our rights too and what is right and what is wrong and what is truth and what is false.

Left, right, center: Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo are dreaming of being the White Sox championship outfield of the future

Left, right, center: Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo are dreaming of being the White Sox championship outfield of the future

GLENDALE, Ariz. — All that was missing was a dinner bell.

From all over the White Sox spring training complex at Camelback Ranch they came, lined up in front of the third-base dugout and all around the cage to see a trio of future White Sox take batting practice.

This is all it was, batting practice. But everyone wanted to get a glimpse of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo swinging the bat. And those three outfield prospects delivered, putting on quite a show and displaying exactly what gets people so darn excited about the White Sox rebuild.

How to sum it up if you weren’t there? Just be happy you weren’t parked behind the left-field fence.

Jimenez and Robert are two of the biggest stars of the White Sox rebuilding effort, with Adolfo flying a bit more under the radar, but all three have big dreams of delivering on the mission general manager Rick Hahn and his front office have undertaken over the past year and change: to turn the South Siders into perennial championship contenders. The offensive capabilities of all three guys have fans and the team alike giddy for the time they hit the big leagues.

And those three guys can’t wait for that day, either.

“Actually, just a few minutes ago when we were taking BP, we were talking about it,” Jimenez said Tuesday. “Micker and Luis said, ‘Can you imagine if we had the opportunity one day to play together in the majors: right, left and center field? The three of us together and having the opportunity to bring a championship to this team?’ I think that’s a dream for us, and we’re trying to work hard for that.”

“We were just talking about how cool it would be to one day all three of us be part of the same outfield,” Adolfo told NBC Sports Chicago. “We were talking about hitting behind each other in the order and just envisioning ourselves winning championships and stuff like that. It’s awesome. I really envision myself in the outfield next to Eloy and Luis Robert.”

How those three would eventually line up in the outfield at Guaranteed Rate Field remains to be seen. Adolfo’s highly touted arm would make him an attractive option in right field. Robert’s speed and range makes him the logical fit in center field. Jimenez will play whichever position allows his big bat to stay in the lineup every day.

Here in Arizona, the focus isn’t necessarily on some far off future but on the present. As intriguing as all three guys are and as anticipated their mere batting practice sessions seem to be, they all potentially have a long way to go to crack the big league roster. Jimenez is the furthest along, but even he has only 73 plate appearances above the Class A level. Adolfo spent his first full season above rookie ball last year. Robert has yet to play a minor league game in the United States.

The group could very well make its way through the minor leagues together, which would obviously be beneficial come the time when the three arrive on the South Side.

“We were talking about (playing in the big leagues), but also we were talking about just to have the first stage of the three of us together in the minor leagues first and then go to the majors all three of us together,” Robert said. “To have the opportunity to play there should be pretty special for us. We were dreaming about that.”

For months now, and likely for months moving forward, the question has been and will be: when?

Whether it’s Jimenez or top pitching prospect Michael Kopech or any other of the large number of prospects who have become household names, fans and observers are dying to see the stars of this rebuilding project hit the major leagues. Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez made their respective jumps last season. Hahn, who has said repeatedly this offseason that the front office needs to practice patience as much as the fan base, has also mentioned that a good developmental season for these guys might involve no big league appearances at all.

And it’s worth remembering that could be the case considering the lack of experience at the upper levels of the minor leagues for all three of these guys.

“In my mind, I don’t try to set a date for when I'm going to be in the majors,” Jimenez said. “That is something I can’t control. I always talk with my dad and we share opinions, and he says, ‘You know what? Just control the things that you can control. Work hard and do the things that you need to do to get better.’ And that’s my key. That’s probably why I stay patient.”

But staying patient is sometimes easier said than done. The big crowd watching Jimenez, Robert and Adolfo send baseballs into a to-this-point-in-camp rare cloudless Arizona sky proved that.

Dreaming of the future has now become the official pastime of the South Side. And that applies to fans and players all the same.

“I’m very, very excited,” Jimenez said, “because I know from the time we have here, that when the moment comes, when we can all be in the majors, the ones that can finally reach that level, we’re going to be good, we’re going to be terrific. I know that.”

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.