White Sox

Jose Abreu thinks White Sox 'have the core group here'

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Jose Abreu thinks White Sox 'have the core group here'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- They clearly have some holes to fill but Jose Abreu doesn’t think the White Sox are far off from fielding a winning club.

While he’s one of many who have difficulty in identifying exactly what ails the 62-70 White Sox, Abreu said effort and preparation haven’t been an issue. He also doesn’t think the club’s talent is an issue and believes it’s all about mindset. If the White Sox can learn from some of the difficult lessons they’ve received this season, there’s no reason they can’t win with a similar group next season.

“We don’t have to look for too much,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I think we have the core group here. We have very talented players.”

[MORE SOX: Tyler Saladino could be White Sox SS until Tim Anderson is ready]

There’s little likelihood that the current roster returns in its entirety. Jeff Samardzija is headed for free agency and Alexei Ramirez could be, too. The White Sox could try to upgrade at catcher and might consider Tyler Saladino at shortstop if they can find a suitable third baseman in a trade or perhaps free agency.

The team may also have to consider trading Jose Quintana or a key bullpen arm to help fill some of its vacancies.

Despite a number of additions last offseason, the White Sox offense has still only averaged 3.82 runs per game. The team continues to struggle on the bases, ranking second in the majors with 61 outs on the bases, 15 more than the league average. And even though they’ve turned it around defensively, the White Sox are still second to last in Defensive Runs Saved, with minus-38.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Those are just a few of the factors that have kept the White Sox -- who have had few health issues -- from making a real run all season.

“There are too many things to just point to one and say, ‘Well, it’s because of that,’” Abreu said. “But you have to learn about the bad streaks, you have to learn about the losses, about what you have been doing badly and try to fix it for next season. That’s the way I see this, and that’s the way I think we have to work.”

Still, despite their myriad struggles, the White Sox aren’t likely for a massive overhaul as they had this past offseason. Abreu doesn’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, either.

“It’s just a matter of working hard every day and trying to think and believe we are capable of winning and capable of reaching the playoffs and winning the World Series,” Abreu said. “It’s also a confidence point. If you can reinforce that, it’s going to put you in a better position for next year. (The front office has) to do their job also, but we have here the core players we need to win.”

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.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.