White Sox

Extra day of rest sets up Chris Sale vs. Mark Buehrle on Monday

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Extra day of rest sets up Chris Sale vs. Mark Buehrle on Monday

Chris Sale will get an extra day of rest, having his next start flipped from Sunday against Baltimore to Monday against Toronto. And — not by design — the White Sox decision to push Sale back a day will set him up to face former White Sox ace Mark Buehrle Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

“We didn't do it because of that, but you now notice it,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It could be a quick game.”

With Carlos Rodon having his last turn in the rotation skipped, the White Sox had flexibility in deciding when he could make his next start. That flexibility allowed Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper to start him Sunday on nine days rest and give Sale five days between starts.

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“This isn't anything to do with him health wise, he's not complaining about anything,” Ventura said. “It's just more of being able to give him an extra day. We've done it in the past where whenever we had a chance we'd take care of him. And just the way the schedule worked out, we had a couple off days this week, we can shuffle that around and drop Carlos in and I don't think the extra day is necessarily going to help him because he's had an extended time off.

“It's just being able to take care of Chris. He doesn't care one way or the other. I think if he cared it would have probably been maybe a something little different.”

If Sale strikes out 10 or more Blue Jays on Monday, he’ll set a major league single-season record for most consecutive starts with double digit strikeouts. The 26-year-old left-hander tied Pedro Martinez’s record with eight straight starts with 10-plus strikeouts Tuesday night in St. Louis.

[MORE: White Sox sign first-round pick Carson Fulmer]

On Thursday, Sale earned American League Pitcher of the Month honors for June, and he’s all but certain to be named to the AL All-Star roster on Monday. But the left-hander, as he’s done all year, deflected attention from his personal accolades and heaped praise on his catcher, Tyler Flowers.

“It's cool. It's something to kick around, talk about, later on down the road,” Sale said. “I definitely appreciate it, people looking at what we've done together with Flow, this past month. There's a lot of hard work that goes into it so it's nice to see that it's paying off for both of us. But like I said before, I'm not going to sit here and be focused on that.

“… I definitely know it's more than people think and (Flowers) doesn't get near the credit he should get because he's the one basically doing all the homework, doing all the studying. He's the brains of the operation. I'm just out there following his lead, really. As much as I'm getting, he should get just as much if not more. He's the driver of the car.”

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.