White Sox

Jeff Samardzija provides third strong start in a row for Sox


Jeff Samardzija provides third strong start in a row for Sox

TORONTO -- Jeff Samardzija didn’t earn the win on Wednesday afternoon but he deserved one.

Though he had to work overtime to limit a hot Toronto Blue Jays lineup, Samardzija effectively danced in and out of trouble over seven strong innings. The White Sox bullpen blew a chance for Samardzija to earn a third straight victory, but his offense rallied to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 in 10 innings.

“Shark pitched a great game,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He's just been kind of on time with everything. Really aggressive, emotionally gets stronger as the game goes along. He pitched a great game.”

[MORE: Abreu's speed paying off for White Sox]

Samardzija said he knew the score with the White Sox having lost four straight and headed to Baltimore on Thursday to play a doubleheader. The right-hander knew he had to work deep into the game to help out the bullpen and pitched around eight hits. After he threw 39 pitches the first two frames, Samardzija averaged 14.8 over the next five innings. That allowed Samardzija to get through the ever-dangerous top portion of the Jays lineup four times.

“With the double header, and then two more road trips after that, I just knew I couldn't go out and throw a short-inning performance,” Samardzija said. “I had to get deep into the game and hopefully save our bullpen for this long stretch.”

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Samardzija has done just that with 23 innings and a 1.96 ERA over his past three starts. He threw strikes on 78 of 114 pitches on Wednesday and effectively used all five of his pitches.

The effort lowered Samardzija’s season ERA to 3.84. He’s scheduled to pitch again next Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Texas.

“I feel good man,” Samardzija said. “Start of the season, a lot of time's it's great and sometimes it's not. You gotta get into the swing of things and get used to things and definitely don't panic. I feel great and looking forward to get back out there.”

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best


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.”


“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


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.