White Sox

David Robertson confident in multi-inning routine with White Sox

David Robertson confident in multi-inning routine with White Sox

He hadn’t pitched in six days, so David Robertson wasn’t surprised when Robin Ventura elected to use him in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s victory.

While multi-inning saves aren’t a normal part of the White Sox closer’s routine, it’s nothing new, either. It’s just not something Robertson has been asked to do often. While Robertson allowed an inherited runner to score on Wednesday, he also recorded the four outs needed to convert his sixth save in six tries this season. It was Robertson’s first multi-inning save converted since May 16th last season.

“Whenever (a layoff) happens, I’m prepared for four or five outs,” Robertson said. “It happens. That’s part of the gig of being in the bullpen. You have to be ready to go whenever he calls.”

Robertson attempted two multi-inning saves in 2015 and has nine attempts in his career. He blew a July 22 effort against the St. Louis Cardinals last season, but has converted seven of his nine career tries, including four of five in 2014 for the New York Yankees. Robertson’s first multi-inning save occurred as a setup man for the Yankees when he struck out three over two scoreless innings on Sept. 3, 2011.

Lots of pitchers say the most difficult part of a multi-inning appearance is trying to recreate the adrenaline that comes with the first inning. Often, pitchers enter in a tight situation as Robertson was on Wednesday when he took over with the White Sox ahead by two, two outs and runners on the corners.

Robertson has developed a routine for that second inning, though he probably didn’t need much motivation to get fired up Wednesday.

Not only did Rafael Ortega’s RBI single make it a one-run game, but Robertson had to face Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in his second inning. Trout singled but tried to advance when Todd Frazier’s throw got away from Jerry Sands only for Sands to throw him out.

Either way, Robertson feels comfortable with his mid-inning routine.

“I just try to keep my mind focused on the game,” Robertson said. “I try to stay moving around, just walking in here and taking a lap. Then turn around and come right back to the dugout. Anything to stay moving. I try to get up and keep the blood flowing. When you get out there to warm up, it’s a little easier.”

Ventura had no qualms asking Robertson to close out the game, especially since he hadn’t pitched since last Thursday against the Minnesota Twins. Robertson is the most trusted, but Ventura feels like he has many options in the White Sox bullpen. The bullpen has a 1.52 ERA through its first 15 games and 16 holds.

“A few of those guys have been a closer for us in the last few years,” Ventura said. “They’ve been put in situations that maybe aren’t as high leverage right now as they were before and you learn something from that.

“You’re looking at guys who have a little more mileage on them and that’s also mentally of being able to go in games and put it away.”

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.