White Sox

Indians cool off Carlos Rodon as White Sox lose

Indians cool off Carlos Rodon as White Sox lose

The White Sox offense was coming off two of its more productive nights of the season.

Carlos Rodon had been darn near unhittable for more than a month.

The Cleveland Indians figured out a way to solve both issues on Wednesday night. Josh Tomlin and the Indians bullpen combined on a six-hitter and Cleveland had several timely hits to send the White Sox to a 6-1 loss in front 15,808 at U.S. Cellular Field. Rodon allowed six earned runs as a personal five-game winning streak came to an end.

“Losing is never great,” Rodon said. “This one is going to stick with me for a while until I face them again. I’m looking forward to that chance for sure. But live to fight another day, right? Move on. Short memory in this game. That’s the plan. I get home and just relax. It happens.”

Having not lost before Wednesday since July 31, Rodon clearly is in a better space than he was as he headed into the All-Star break. He has rediscovered the form that made him the No. 3 overall pick of the 2014 amateur draft, overpowering hitters and pitching out of the few tight spots in which he found himself.

Rodon managed to do the same at times on Wednesday as he stranded runners in scoring position in the first and third innings. His third-inning jam began with a double and a walk and yet Rodon — who had a 1.85 ERA in 43 2/3 innings from Aug. 6-Sept. 9 — escaped it without a scratch.

But he wasn’t as lucky in the fourth and sixth innings.

Rodon, who walked 10 of 178 batters in his previous seven starts (5.6 percent walk rate), issued a pair of one-out walks in the fourth. Jose Ramirez made him pay for the bout of wildness when he tripled in two to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead. Brandon Guyer then singled in Ramirez to put the Indians ahead by two runs.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Rodon also wiggled out of a first-and-third, no-out jam in the fifth inning against Cleveland’s 3-4-5 hitters.

But the workload caught up with him in the sixth inning. Ramirez and Guyer singled and Rodon’s first-pitch changeup to Coco Crisp caught too much of the plate and he ripped it for a three-run homer.

Rodon allowed more earned runs (six) than he had in five August starts.

“When he first started out, it was coming out of his hand great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You didn’t really expect the inning where he walks two guys and gets himself in trouble. But that stuff is going to happen on occasion, and you want to limit that and not give them any free chances, especially because the last couple of days they haven’t scored a ton of runs. You’re giving them opportunities, and they’ve been a team that has really seized on that. He left the door open for them to do some damage. They can get it quick, and they did tonight.”

The White Sox offense didn’t fare much better against Tomlin.

Adam Eaton tripled in a run in the third inning to put the White Sox ahead 1-0. But that was all they would manage against Tomlin, who allowed a run and four hits in five innings. Tomlin struck out Tim Anderson and retired Melky Cabrera on a fly out to strand Eaton and the White Sox never threatened again.

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.