White Sox

Hawk Harrelson looks forward to reduced White Sox workload


Hawk Harrelson looks forward to reduced White Sox workload

Hawk Harrelson sounds totally at ease about his reduced workload for 2016.

After weighing his options for two years, three significant factors -- his grandchildren at the forefront -- convinced the longtime White Sox play-by-play man to cut his schedule for the upcoming season in half. 

A day after his multi-year contract extension and new schedule were announced, Harrelson said Thursday he looks forward to an 81-game slate (78 are on the road) as he splits the play-by-play duties with new hire Jason Benetti. Harrelson said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf asked him two years ago if he had thought about cutting back his schedule.

[MORE WHITE SOX: White Sox name Jason Benetti new announcer, extend contracts of Harrelson, Stone]

“I started thinking about it and the more I did the more appealing it became,” Harrelson said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

The appeal is easy to understand.

During the baseball season, Harrelson, 74, lives in Granger, Ind., about 100 miles away from U.S. Cellular Field. In order to see his grandsons, ages 12 and 9, Harrelson has made the 200-mile round trip commute every day for the past eight seasons. On an average game night, Harrelson estimates he arrives home between 1:30-2 a.m., and those hours extend past 3 a.m. if a contest goes to extra innings.

Given the team’s losing ways the past three years, including a 2015 campaign that Harrelson has called the most disappointing season he has experienced, the commute has become less palatable. 

The team’s 274 losses have taken a toll. Harrelson even told the Sun-Times on Wednesday he could retire after the 2016 season.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Cubs' Len Kasper had big influence on new White Sox announcer Jason Benetti]

“When you’ve had a couple of years like we’ve had in a row, 200 miles a day seems a lot longer,” Harrelson said. 

And as Harrelson points out, if he moved to Chicago for baseball season, it would defeat the purpose of living in Indiana, as he wouldn’t be able to see his grandkids on a daily basis. Rather than work with his old schedule, one that often required a quick post-lunch nap before he headed back to the ballpark in the early afternoon, Harrelson opted for a schedule that consists almost entirely of road games. Harrelson works 78 of those 81 contests, skipping an April trip to Toronto. He’ll call the team’s home opener and its two home games against the Cubs in July.

He’s also expected to appear at home games and act as a club ambassador, at times.

Already, Harrelson is eyeing the team’s three lengthy homestands as a chance to go on trips with his family. Both his grandsons play travel baseball.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“I want to watch them play some baseball and I don’t want to miss that,” Harrelson said. “The biggest thing is the grandkids.”

He also looks forward to hearing Benetti call White Sox games. Harrelson said he spoke Benetti on Wednesday and offered brief advice. He likes what he has heard after a friend sent him Benetti’s highlight reel. 

“He seems to really have his head on his shoulders,” Harrelson said. “I told him, ‘I’m only going to tell you one thing and that’s be yourself. You can’t please everybody.’

"I love his delivery. I love his pace. I’m looking forward to him breaking in and he’s got a chance to be a hell of a good announcer. He’s coming to the best organization in the American League.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?


As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”