White Sox

GIFs: Robin Ventura catches Flowers after tumbling over rail

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GIFs: Robin Ventura catches Flowers after tumbling over rail

Tyler Flowers is normally supposed to be the catcher while Robin Ventura is stationed in the dugout, but at one point during Friday's game, the roles were reversed.

In the bottom of the fourth inning against Houston, Flowers hustled towards the White Sox dugout — not really realizing how close he was getting to it — in an effort to field a pop fly.

After coming a few inches away from making the grab, the White Sox catcher tumbled head-first over the railing.

And if it weren't for his manager, it may not have ended well for Flowers.

Ventura, who won six Gold Gloves as a player, displayed his defensive skills by bear-hugging his catcher upside down before he could hit the deck.

Impressive strength by Ventura, who not only prevented Flowers from falling even further, but slowly lifted him back up with the help of his staff and players.

Luckily for the White Sox, Flowers was uninjured on the play and remained in the game.

But they didn't go away completely unscathed.

Ventura went to the trainer's room following the White Sox win on Friday night, and came out with a big bag of ice on his back.

"He’s heavy, and it doesn’t feel very good," Ventura said of Flowers. "I think I might have saved his life. He better at least think so."

[MORE: Geovany Soto's two-run double in 11th lifts White Sox]

Flowers, on the other hand, admitted he's feeling much better than if his manager wasn't there to prevent a hard landing.

"Definitely saved me from some more pain," Flowers said. "I was expecting, once my feet left underneath me, I figured I was going down. It’d be tough to catch me and also trying to dodge the ball, a lot of things going on there."

Here's what went through his mind as the play developed:

I knew it was coming. The problem here is the roof is whitish and (Evan Gattis) hit it about as high as you could without hitting the roof. It took me a minute to find it so I didn’t want to take my eye off it with the whitish roof. But the last thing you want on a pop up like that is alligator arm it. So I was committed and probably two steps before I hit the rail I was like ‘I’m going through this all the way’ even though I knew I was going to be close. It just got there quicker than I thought.

Although he didn't make the catch, at least Flowers will always know Ventura will catch him when he falls.

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.