White Sox

Melky Cabrera looks to get back on track in return to Toronto


Melky Cabrera looks to get back on track in return to Toronto

TORONTO -- In a return to his past home of two seasons, Melky Cabrera said Monday negotiations never got close with the Toronto Blue Jays last offseason.

The White Sox are hopeful that playing in the Rogers Centre gets Cabrera back to hitting like the guy they signed for three years and $42 million this offseason.

One of many slumping bats in the lineup, Cabrera entered Monday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays with a .239/.287/.270 slash line with one home run and 15 RBIs this season. Both Cabrera and the White Sox have to believe his luck is due to change -- he’s hitting 56 points below his career mark on balls in play.

[MORE: Robin Ventura hopes shakeup wakes up White Sox offense]

“He’s hitting the ball hard,” manager Robin Ventura said. “In our last series, he lined out quite a bit. It was on the barrel and it was hard. It’s a good sign to see that, but you’re not guaranteed anything just because you hit hard. You always like the sign of a guy swinging it that way, being on time, and he’s been that way. I know he has scuffled a little bit right-handed. He’s even hit some balls right handed, and he’s not getting anything from it.”

Cabrera has only three extra-base hits in 179 plate appearances this season. He had 54 in 2014, including 35 doubles. But Cabrera doesn’t seem to be panicked by the slow start.

The veteran outfielder is glad to be back in Toronto, where he made good friends with Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes in two seasons and “learned a lot,” he said. Through an interpreter, Cabrera said the Blue Jays told him to seek what he was worth on the free-agent market and the two sides never engaged further after the White Sox made their offer. He also expects things will turn around for both himself and the White Sox.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“It’s part of the game,” Cabrera said. “Just keep playing. We have a good team. We’re going to be better.”

Closer David Robertson has seen Cabrera at his best as the two played in the same division the previous two seasons. He also believes Cabrera is due for a rebound in a hurry.

“Very good eye,” Robertson said. “He’s patient at the plate and he’ll take his chances when he thinks he’s going to get a good pitch over. Hits the ball hard. That’s the thing you notice about Melky. I don’t know what his average is, but he’s squared up -- everything he squares up is an out. I don’t know what’s going on, it’s just bad luck right now. I was joking with him you that you need to take the barrel out and just use the end.”

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.