White Sox

Jose Abreu, Jeff Samardzija lead the charge in Sox victory


Jose Abreu, Jeff Samardzija lead the charge in Sox victory

Jose Abreu has developed an affinity for facing former Cy Young winners.

Several hours after he suggested the White Sox need to modify their approach at the plate, Abreu provided them with an example as the White Sox pounded 2014 American League Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Abreu homered in the first inning again and later doubled in two runs off Kluber, who surrendered a career high 13 hits in six-plus innings.

The team’s second-highest offensive output of 2015 earned Jeff Samardzija a well-deserved victory, his first with the White Sox. Samardzija pitched six scoreless innings as he and three relievers combined on an eight-hit shutout.

“That’s Jose,” leadoff man Adam Eaton said. “To be honest with you, if you took a look at last season, I think there was s stretch where he struggled a little early and then he turned it on for the rest of the season. He’s a great hitter and you can’t say enough about his professionalism at the plate.”

[RELATED - Jose Abreu: White Sox need to change way they approach game]

Kluber and Samardzija were locked in a tight game until the White Sox offense broke the game open in the sixth and seventh innings. Avisail Garcia scored with one out in the sixth on a Kluber wild pitch to make it 3-0.

Melky Cabrera singled in a run in the seventh after hits by Micah Johnson and Eaton and Abreu’s two-run double to left made it 6-0 and gave him three RBIs.

Before the game, Abreu said White Sox hitters needed to transfer some of the late energy they have displayed to earlier in the game. Abreu then blasted a solo homer to right in the first inning off Kluber, his fifth of the season.

The round-tripper marked the fifth time Abreu has homered off a former Cy Young winner (eight homers total); David Price, Justin Verlander, R.A. Dickey and Clayton Kershaw were the others.

Abreu put the White Sox up 2-0 in the third inning when he grounded into a double play to score Eaton, who had a leadoff double.

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The 14-hit performance was a nice change for the White Sox, who have scored two runs or fewer seven times this season.

“We have to make some changes probably in the way we are approaching the game,” Abreu said through an interpreter before the game. “We have to be more a unit, like a team, the players, the coaches, everybody.”

Last season, Kluber — who received 169 points to Felix Hernandez’s 159 in the Cy Young tally last November — was 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five starts against the White Sox. He struck out 40 in 36 2/3 innings in 2014 and won four his first six career decisions against them before Wednesday.

“He’s been tough on us for a few years now and to string some hits together, chip away, Jose with the big homer to start it off, but just to chip away and add on later on,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We haven’t been able to do that against him the last couple years. So it was nice.”

Though he had “subpar stuff,” Samardzija made do. He needed 93 pitches to get through his first four innings of work as he stranded seven base runners after retiring the side in order in the first.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans]

But Samardzija gained speed and retired six of the last seven he faced on 20 pitches. He credited the offense for giving him a margin of error on a cold day.

“That's a big cushion to have,” Samardzija said. “Everybody knows what type of hitter (Abreu) is. It’s great to be on the team and see how he works and how he prepares. We’re expecting big things out of him and we’re going to ride him as far as we can.

“He’s amazing.”

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.