White Sox

Projecting the White Sox lineup

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Projecting the White Sox lineup

Mark Gonzales joined Chicago Tribune Live on Tuesday to discuss what the White Sox lineup could look like on opening day -- which, by the way, is in less than two months. His breakdown is as follows: Alejandro De Aza, Brent Morel, Paul Konerko, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Adam Dunn, Dayan Viciedo, A.J. Pierzynski and Gordon Beckham.

Check out the video for Gonzales' explanations on that lineup. Here's what I would do if given the chance to mold the Sox lineup:
1. Alejandro De Aza: A no-brainer. He gets on base and has good speed.
2. Alexei Ramirez: He's not ideal for this spot (a higher-OBP guy would be ideal), but he gets on base more than a Brent Morel, A.J. Pierzynski or Gordon Beckham and would be great to have ahead of the middle of the order. Putting the ball in play is extremely overrated for a No. 2 hitter -- better to have someone who can get on base here than a guy who doesn't strike out.

3. Paul Konerko: Ideally, I'd like to have Konerko hit cleanup to max out his chances to hit with runners in scoring position. But that would mean Dayan Viciedo would have to hit third, which would probably be too much pressure on the soon-to-be 23-year-old rookie.

4. Adam Dunn: Like Gonzales, I'm banking on a rebound here, although I'm more confident Dunn will bounce back than Rios. It's risky to hit Dunn here, because if he struggles as mightily as he did in 2011, the Sox will have a tough time scoring runs early on. But if he bounces back and has some semblance of offensive production, he'll be a good fit here.

5. Dayan Viciedo: He'll have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs here. Good fit.

6. A.J. Pierzynski: Ideally, Ramirez would hit here with Gordon Beckham batting second, but the Sox won't have an idea if that's feasible until a month or two into the season. Pierzynski isn't the best option to hit sixth, but if Rios struggles, there probably won't be a better option on the team.
7. Brent Morel: His spectacular September power production isn't sustainable, but if he really did turn an offensive corner in last season's final month, he should hit higher in the order than he did for most of 2011.
8. Alex Rios: It'd be a pleasant surprise if Rios' bat could come back around, but he's only had about three good months of offense since coming to the White Sox in August of 2009.

9. Gordon Beckham: He and Rios are probably interchangeable in terms of "guys who need to rebound at the back of the lineup," but Beckham gets the nod at No. 9 probably because he doesn't cost nearly as much as Rios.

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.