White Sox

Rick Hahn confident offense has improved, but won't rule out additions

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Rick Hahn confident offense has improved, but won't rule out additions

GLENDALE, Ariz. — While the conversation was focused on those who are in camp, Rick Hahn still wouldn’t close the door on any potential moves.

Seemingly in a hunt to improve his offense for two months since Todd Frazier’s acquisition, the White Sox general manager stressed confidence in his club on Friday. He also reiterated the belief that the White Sox offense is better than the group that last season scored three or fewer runs in 82 of 162 contests. But even though spring training is upon them, Hahn expressed that he and the front office have still contemplated upgrades, perhaps before the team’s April 4 opener at the Oakland A’s.

“I’d like to focus on the guys we have now as opposed to potential additions down the road, whether they come in the next few weeks or over the course of the season,” Hahn said from a bench on the back patio at Camelback Ranch. “Based on the group we have now, we’re improved our offense based on the additions of Frazier, (Brett) Lawrie, Alex (Avila) and Dioner (Navarro). On top of that, we expect internal improvement.”

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Hahn is smart not to entirely rule out any potential additions. Not with the current crop of free agents available as well as the potential for trades.

But even if they don’t add on, Hahn has to expect more from the current offense. Frazier and Lawrie — who combined to hit 51 home runs last season — should upgrade the White Sox at positions where they ranked 30th in OPS in last season. The club also expects to get improvement from Adam LaRoche and Melky Cabrera and Adam Eaton, all of whom had slow starts. The White Sox also hope Avisail Garcia can start to make some of the gains of which they believe he’s capable.

Still, Hahn continues to leave the door open for additions. He hasn’t promised the White Sox would make more moves. But he hasn’t said they won’t, either.

“There is a high level of confidence in the club,” Hahn said. “You’re always looking to find ways to get yourself better, whether it’s the guys already in that clubhouse or potentially acquisitions from other clubs. But even if this is the group from which we have to choose our 25, we feel there is great deal of talent and a lot of upside and a fair amount of optimism. At the same time, we have to prove it, not only meet in a lot of instances, but exceed expectations based on how we performed last year.”

After last season's personal tragedy, Tim Anderson ready to unleash real self

After last season's personal tragedy, Tim Anderson ready to unleash real self

GLENDALE, AZ --  There’s a different Tim Anderson at White Sox spring training this year.

You can see it on his face  You can hear it in his voice.

“I’m busting out of the shell. I’m talking more,” he said as he sat down for an interview with NBC Sports Chicago (in the video above).

It’s not the new Tim Anderson. It turns out, it’s the real one that’s been there all along.

“This is me. It’s always been me. I never knew how to express myself. I feel like I’m being a lot more open,” Anderson explained. “That’s what I want to give to fans. Let them know the real me. You’re cheering for me. Why not know me? I’m being open and kind of let fans into my life.”

The White Sox shortstop has learned a lot about life in the past year. It all started in May when the White Sox were in Baltimore to play the Orioles. Anderson received a phone call at 4 a.m. It was news from back home.

It was the worst phone call of his life.

His best friend Branden Moss had been murdered in the parking lot of a Tuscaloosa, Ala., bar after helping the victim of a fight.  

The two were like brothers. Anderson is the godfather to Moss’s young daughter. Moss was the godfather to Anderson’s 2-year-old daughter.

“It was heartbreaking,” Anderson said.

While Anderson grieved, playing baseball seemed like it would be a perfect escape for his pain. Only it wasn’t. Far from it.  Baseball might have made things even worse.

In fast-paced sports like football and hockey, players don’t have much time to think. It’s react, react, react. Whatever might be happening off the field feels like a million miles away.

Not in baseball.

The game moves at a much slower speed. There’s plenty of time for your mind to wander. Thoughts kept going back to Anderson’s lost friend, taken from him in an instant.

At 23, he didn’t have the tools to deal with the emotional pain and excel at baseball at the same time.

“The year was rough. I wasn’t having fun in between the lines. I was making the game harder than it was. I was thinking too much. I was feeling sorry for myself and the list can go on. When my friend died it definitely took a lot out of me. I had a dark moment,” Anderson said. “Some days I didn’t feel comfortable coming to the ballpark because I knew it was going to be a bad day.”

Making matters worse, there were many nights when Anderson didn’t sleep. Not a wink. Still, he dragged himself to the ballpark and somehow tried to play.

The results weren’t pretty. On June 22, Anderson already had 16 errors at shortstop, most in the majors. At the plate, he was hitting .256/.284/.374 with six home runs and 19 RBIs.

He knew he was better than that. He also knew something else: He needed help.

In July, Anderson started meeting with a therapist who was able to unlock the pent up thoughts and emotions that he was burying inside him.

The therapist would write down everything that Anderson was feeling on paper and then read it back to him.

“Just going in and talking and pouring everything out of you. It lets you hear what you’ve been going through,“ Anderson said. “When she did it, it was a lot. I took what she read to me, balled it up and threw it away. I got lighter. It was a brightening. Those counseling sessions definitely helped me.”

Soon, Anderson was back to being himself both on and off the field.

In the month of August, he had 8 doubles, 5 home runs and 16 RBI.

“Woof. I was hot,” he said after hearing those stats. “That’s Tim. That’s more Tim that we need to see.”

In September, he batted .327 with 3 home runs and 9 stolen bases.

“We need a lot of that this year. That’s the way I want to go. That’s the way I want to go about it. Get back to what got me here.”

There was still an issue with his plate discipline. He had 32 strikeouts and only 1 walk in September.

“We play a tough sport as it is. They’re going to come,” Anderson said about the walks. “I mean, when I walk more, what are you going to tell me? ‘Start swinging more?’ It’s one of those things. It’s a give and take. We’ll see what happens.”

In 2017, Anderson received a crash course in adversity. What did he learn from all that pain and misery?

“Tough times happen, but they don’t last forever.”

Now that he’s survived the personal storm from last season, he wants “another shot at it. I feel like last year went left. This is new season.”

So, what does he envision for himself in 2018?

“Having fun, smiling a lot, picking up my teammates, hugging on the coaches and players. A lot of love, more so than stats,” Anderson said. “I’m fired up. I’m excited. I feel like I’m ready to lead this pack. We got a great group of guys. We’ve got a chance to do something special.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Michael Kopech tells all about his past, present and future

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Michael Kopech tells all about his past, present and future

The White Sox top pitching prospect sits down with Chuck Garfien for a revealing interview at spring training. Kopech says he almost quit the game after he got into a fight with a Red Sox minor league teammate in 2016. He goes in-depth about his desire to be great, why meditating makes him a better pitcher, his failed PED test in 2015, comparisons to Justin Verlander, possibly becoming the future ace of the White Sox and much more.