White Sox

Late-inning magic boosts White Sox to win over Tigers

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Late-inning magic boosts White Sox to win over Tigers

Better late than never.

The White Sox hope that’s the theme for their 2015 season.

It certainly was the case on Friday night as the road-weary White Sox, down to their final out, tied the game and later beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3 in 11 innings at U.S. Cellular Field in front of 24,761.

Avisail Garcia forced in the winning run when reliever Alex Wilson hit him with the bases loaded and no outs as Detroit lost its eighth straight. Two innings earlier, Adam LaRoche blasted a, two-out game-tying solo home run off Tigers closer Joakim Soria. Though the White Sox only improved to 25-28, both players and staff say they have gained confidence from enduring a tough stretch, including their recently completed 11-game road trip.

“The whole clubhouse feels that way,” LaRoche said. “We’ve had some rough games. We’ve had some games where we let some guys dominate us for seven, eight innings. We need to get past that. The bright side there is we’re coming back in a lot of games, just like tonight.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

After arriving home at 3 a.m. Friday from a four-city trip, on which they went 5-6, the White Sox relied on the long ball to rally from a two-run deficit. Garcia ended a stretch in which Tigers starter Kyle Ryan retired 17 of 18 with a solo homer in the seventh inning to make it 3-2. Then in the ninth, LaRoche belted a 0-1 fastball from Soria -- who had converted 15 of 16 saves -- to tie the game.

Two innings later, Adam Eaton started the winning rally with a single off the glove of Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Alexei Ramirez, who had two hits and a walk, moved him to third with a single to center and Wilson intentionally walked Jose Abreu to load the bases. The decision backfired when Wilson hit Garcia on the right arm with a 1-2 pitch.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the victory was much needed.

“Especially when you’re in extra innings last night, lose a tough one after a long road trip, you get in late,” Ventura said. “We didn’t swing it that well tonight but they just kept battling. That’s what you have to do, is just grind away and chip away.”

Before the game, both Ventura and general manager Rick Hahn expressed confidence in the team. Hahn likes how the White Sox played, not only on the road trip, but also as they posted a 9-9 mark when they had 18 games in 17 days -- a stretch that ended Sunday.

[ALSO: Hahn sees 'brighter days' coming for White Sox]

Given how poorly the offense has performed, the team’s 31-run deficit in the first inning, Jeff Samardzija’s 4.68 ERA and their defensive woes, Hahn believes the White Sox could be much worse. Just like Ventura, Hahn likes the team’s fight and suggested the White Sox are trending in the right direction in spite of those issues.

But even an offensive shakeup, moving Melky Cabrera to sixth and inserting Ramirez in front of Abreu, didn’t appear to make much difference against Ryan.

Things looked like they could change when Ramirez singled and scored on an Abreu RBI double in the first inning to put the White Sox ahead 1-0. But Ryan settled in from there until Garcia homered into the visiting bullpen.

The White Sox threatened in the eighth inning but left the tying run on third as Soria got Ramirez to ground out. Soria then struck out Abreu and retired Garcia on a grounder. But the Tigers closer left a 0-1 fastball over the middle and LaRoche hit it out to center, just over the glove of Rajai Davis.

Jose Quintana was effective yet again but couldn’t hold off Detroit forever. He managed to keep the White Sox within striking distance, allowing three runs over seven innings. Quintana pitched out of a jam with men on first and third and one out in the seventh as White Sox pitchers retired the last 14 batters they faced. Closer David Robertson pitched two scoreless innings, striking out the side in the ninth. Jake Petricka retired Detroit’s 3-4-5 hitters in the 11th.

“The last road road trip was pretty tough for us,” Robertson said. “We battled it out, ended up taking a series during it, won a few games, we just weren't able to take all the series. Those are the ones you build off of and you hope the next time you go into those extra innings games you win them.”

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.