White Sox

Rick Hahn hopes James Shields trade is tip of iceberg for White Sox

Rick Hahn hopes James Shields trade is tip of iceberg for White Sox

Nothing is certain, but don’t count on James Shields being the last in-season acquisition the 2016 White Sox make.

While the club has stalled out and been hurt by its current 6-17 run, the White Sox won’t punt their season with 65 percent of the schedule to go as evidenced by Saturday’s deal for Shields.

The White Sox feel as if they have addressed one of their more pressing needs by adding right-handed stability to their rotation in Shields.

But White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is also quite certain the addition of a starting pitcher won’t solve all his team’s issues (see: left-handed bat and bullpen). He began moving the club in this direction with the release of John Danks last month, and it sounds as if Hahn is prepared to continue adding to his roster to make the White Sox a more complete club.

“There are other areas of need on this roster potentially over the coming months, and while the rotation was certainly a very important one — and frankly one we felt was going to be fairly difficult to address in the coming weeks leading up to the trade deadline given the supply and demand out there — we felt it was an important one to move on early,” Hahn said. “But it’s not the only need we see on this roster, and whether it’s from a prospect standpoint or an economic standpoint, we do feel like we are in a position over the coming weeks and months to augment the roster if the opportunities arise.”

Based on how the Shields’ deal is structured, the White Sox have both the ability to take on salary from teams looking to shed it or trade prospects to make more additions.

Of the $14 million remaining on Shields’ current salary for 2016, the White Sox are only on the hook for $5 million, according to a baseball source.

Between Shields and Miguel Gonzalez, whose split contract pays him a maximum of $1.5 million this season, the White Sox have so far used $6.5 million of the $13 million saved when Adam LaRoche retired. That could come in handy as teams look to dump players over the next two months.

Either way, Hahn promises to be on the lookout, something he’s made clear since his team began the season with a 23-10 record. Hahn is hopeful the addition of Shields fires up the White Sox until he can make another deal.

“I think an acquisition like this does have an impact in the clubhouse,” Hahn said. “Not only from the standpoint of the players realizing that the front office is similarly focused as they are to do everything in our power to help them win as many games as possible this year, but also by adding a guy who has been through these battles before, a guy who has been a leader on successful clubs and the influence he can have when its in difficult stretches like we’re currently going through right now or crunch time when it comes time for the playoffs.”

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.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension


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.