White Sox

Mat Latos, White Sox struggle again in loss to Astros

Mat Latos, White Sox struggle again in loss to Astros

The White Sox turned their second triple play of the season on Wednesday night.

It arrived about four innings too late to bail out Mat Latos.

Latos had a fourth straight rough start and the Houston Astros sent the White Sox to their fourth consecutive loss as they dropped a 5-3 decision in front of 14,936 at U.S. Cellular Field. Though he earned only his first loss of the season, Latos, who yielded a pair of solo homers and 11 hits, has a 7.84 ERA in his last four starts. The White Sox lost for the sixth time in seven games and their lead in the American League Central is down to 2.5 games.

“Some days you feel really good and you have a line like you have today and other days you feel like crap and have a really good line,” Latos said. “It sucks and I’m really over it and tired of giving up runs. But you’ve just got to hang with ‘em and keep going.”

The eighth-inning triple play -- which reliever Dan Jennings induced off the bat of George Springer -- arrived to late for the White Sox.

From a mechanical standpoint, Latos, who has seen his earned-run average rise from 0.74 to 4.00 in his last four turns, said Wednesday is the best he has felt in several turns. Catcher Dioner Navarro agreed, noting Latos kept the ball down better than he has of late.

The backstop had plenty of weak contact generated in the first few innings to back their assessment. But two walks mixed in with a bunch of bloopers and bleeders had the Astros frustrating Latos in the early innings before they pounded him late.

Jose Altuve singled in the first and George Springer walked ahead of a rocket RBI single by Carlos Correa to make it 1-0. An inning later, Altuve’s RBI groundout made it a 2-1 game.

Altuve also had an RBI in the fourth inning, a frame in which no ball was hit harder than Tony Kemp’s bloop single to left.

But Houston hit Latos hard the next two innings as Colby Rasmus and Jason Castro hit long home runs in the fifth and sixth innings to go ahead 5-1.

Latos allowed five earned runs and walked two in 5.1 innings. He struck out three.

“There was just a little bit of everything,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You had some that fell in, weren't hit very hard, just seemed to drop in there. And then ultimately it was the homer that ends up getting you and the two runs you'd like to have back.”

Leading 5-3, the Astros appeared to be headed for some insurance runs as Jennings walked the first two batters he faced. But Springer hit it directly to Todd Frazier, who hopped on third base and fired to second baseman Brett Lawrie, who completed the relay to first for the third out.

The White Sox also turned a triple play on April 22 against the Texas Rangers. It’s the first time they’ve turned two triple plays in a season since 2006. They’re the first team to turn two in a single season since the Philadelphia Phillies in 2007.

But the deficit was too much for the White Sox to overcome.

The White Sox offense also had its chances against Doug Fister and Co. but never broke through for the big inning.

Jose Abreu singled in a run in the first to tie the game. But Fister got on a roll and retired nine in a row. Navarro singled in the fifth and Adam Eaton doubled him to third. But Rasmus tracked down Jimmy Rollins’ drive near the warning track in center for the final out.

The White Sox scored a run in the sixth on an RBI triple by Melky Cabrera to get within three runs. But Fister struck out Lawrie and Avisail Garcia grounded out to limit the damage. Abreu singled in a run in the seventh inning to make it a 5-3 game. But Ken Giles got Frazier to fly out to center with the tying runs aboard.

“What are we gonna do?” Frazier said. “How are we gonna bounce back? We're still riding high, we're still in first place. They're creeping, but at the same time, we haven't really stepped into the division yet that much, so we'll go about our business.”

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.