White Sox

Ned Yost: 'World kind of wants to see (Chris Sale) pitch'

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Ned Yost: 'World kind of wants to see (Chris Sale) pitch'

CINCINNATI — Ned Yost talked Robin Ventura into allowing him to use Chris Sale in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Great American Ballpark.

The White Sox manager said Sunday he preferred that Sale, who threw 115 pitches in a win over the Cubs on Saturday, wouldn’t be used in Tuesday’s exhibition. But Yost — the American League manager whose Kansas City Royals open the second half at the White Sox on Friday — got Ventura’s approval and intends to use Sale, though the when and where hasn’t been determined.

“It took some convincing,” Yost said. “I think (Ventura) understands and I understand. I understand how important (Sale) is to that organization and it’s one of those deals where the world kind of wants to see him pitch. But everything is going to be good.”

[MORE: White Sox: Chris Sale will pitch in All-Star Game after all]

An All-Star for the fourth time, Sale is 8-4 with a 2.72 ERA in 119 1/3 innings this season. Not only does Sale lead the AL in strikeouts (157), Fielding Independent Pitching (2.21), WHIP (0.947) and strikeouts per nine (11.8), he’s fresh off a historic run that saw him match a pair of major league strikeout records with at least a dozen in five straight starts and 10 or more in eight straight. Sale has thrown at least 108 pitches in 13 consecutive starts and would be working on two days rest, which is his normal throw day. However, throwing in the bullpen and in a contest against the game’s elite players are different animals.

“That was the only thing in question,” Sale said. “If I throw a bullpen it’s usually not 100 percent.

“I knew it would be cutting it close (pitching Saturday) and I knew on my bullpen days I don’t crank it up too high. But we’ll figure something out.”

Sale said he hadn’t yet spoken to Yost about how he might be used but loves participating in the All-Star Game. He has pitched in each of the past three games, allowing a run and four hits with four strikeouts in four innings. Sale was the winning pitcher with two scoreless innings for the AL at Citi Field in 2013.

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The White Sox and Royals play four times this weekend, including a doubleheader on Friday. Ventura tentatively has Sale down for Sunday’s game, though he said all week the team’s rotation would be based upon the left-hander’s usage in Cincinnati. In a radio interview on Monday, Yost suggested he would be careful with the South Siders’ most prized possession — though not without joking about what he’d like to do.

“If it were up to me, quite frankly, I’d probably pitch Chris six or seven innings because we open up with them,” Yost joked. “But I don't think I could get away with that.”

“We get a pretty good parameter of what they want us to do, and we just kind of abide by it. I think it’s important. If I sent one of my pitchers to an All-Star team and I say, ‘OK, this is what I'd like you to do: Go ahead and use him but don't abuse him,’ I would expect them to do it, and I'm going to do the same thing.”

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.