White Sox

Jake Petricka could be back in White Sox bullpen mix by Monday

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Jake Petricka could be back in White Sox bullpen mix by Monday

DETROIT -- The White Sox won’t hold Jake Petricka back when he’s ready to rejoin the club, which could happen as soon as Monday.

The relief pitcher is already set for a second rehab appearance on Saturday after he came out his first game in good shape, manager Robin Ventura said on Friday morning.

Ventura said Petricka, who finished last season with a 2.96 ERA and saves in 14 of 18 tries, would instantly become a trusted option in his bullpen.

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“He’s a good right-handed, ground-ball guy,” Ventura said. “He spent some time as the closer and I think last year was a good learning curve for him to be able to get back and hopefully get another (guy) in there that is a quality arm.”

Petricka tossed one inning for Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday nigh, throwing strikes on 11 of 16 pitches. His performance comes on the heels of a 25-pitch simulated game in Glendale, Ariz. earlier in the week.

The addition of Petricka would appear to further strengthen the back end of a bullpen already bolstered by the offseason additions of David Robertson, Zach Duke and Dan Jennings. With Zach Putnam struggling early -- though he threw a scoreless inning on Wednesday -- the White Sox haven’t had as much consistency from the right side in bridging the gap to Robertson.

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Petricka did an admirable job when he and Putnam split closing duties the final three months of last season. After injuries to Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom, the White Sox were in salvage-mode in the late innings. Ronald Belisario struggled mightily but Putnam and Petricka converted 20 of 25 opportunities for a team that blew 21 saves.

“He threw well and all things are a go at this point for him to throw (Saturday) and we’ll re-evaluate after we see that,” Ventura said. “You pitch him where you need to pitch him. That’s why he’s out there. He’s been through enough already that you’re able to put him in there. It’s not like we’re going to ask him to go three or four innings.”

-- Ventura announced Jose Quintana would start Sunday’s series finale against the Detroit Tigers. The White Sox could have brought back Hector Noesi, who had his turn skipped with two days off this week.

-- Adam LaRoche is the starting designated hitter on Friday but should get a game at first base this weekend, Ventura said.

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-- Geovany Soto is the starting catcher for a second straight time with Jeff Samardzija. Ventura said he likes their previous work history. “He has a good feel for him and there’s a familiarity there so I like that,” Ventura said.

-- The White Sox don’t intend to call up Carlos Rodon just because the Cubs have promoted Kris Bryant. Rodon allowed three earned runs over five innings for Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday.

“I’m not going to sit here and (say) just because somebody else does something we have to do something,” Ventura said. “Until you get a report and you have a need, we’re playing in Detroit today.”

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.