White Sox

Rick Hahn: White Sox have 'brighter days' ahead

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Rick Hahn: White Sox have 'brighter days' ahead

Sounds like neither Rick Hahn nor anyone in the front office has their hands anywhere near the plug.

Though he’s disappointed by the team’s 24-28 start, the White Sox general manager made it clear Friday afternoon he isn’t ready to give up on the 2015 season.

The time to make such a decision grows nearer, but Hahn intends to let this club’s fate breathe a little longer.

Whereas the White Sox have had many chances to collapse under the weight of their own struggles as well as extenuating circumstances, they haven’t. Their recent 5-6 showing on a four-city road trip has Hahn and the White Sox front office not only wiling to wait, but potentially looking to add pieces if they feel like that’s the right move.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“The marching orders for the scouts leaving spring training was look at these perhaps positions of need, let’s see how things evolve, but this is what we’ve identified as potential areas of need and let’s plan to address them over the course of the next three to four months,” Hahn said. “Again, we have to be nimble enough that if things don’t quite go the way we hope, and we don’t put ourselves right back in the thick of this thing, that we may have to adjust and go the other direction. But our intent is absolutely to look to add when the time comes, and our hope is to add when the time comes.”

Plenty needs to go right for the White Sox to consider additions for the stretch run. But the White Sox are looking at their season with the glass is half full because they figure things could be much, much worse.

[MORE: Sox hope to jumpstart struggling offense]

Even though the offense has averaged 3.67 runs per game, they’ve been outscored by 31 runs in the first inning, the defense has taken its lumps and Jeff Samardzija has a 4.68 ERA, the White Sox began Friday only four games below .500 and have played above it over their last 30 (16-14).

Hahn said he wouldn’t make a declarative statement about the team’s chances, nor does he intend to set a date for when he might start moving pieces. But he also believes the White Sox are in a good position to make their move now based off the last month.

“Are we disappointed with some of our play thus far?” Hahn said. “Absolutely. We all had high hopes and we still have high hopes. But these things happen over a stretch. Again, we feel right now the arrow’s pointing up. We just went through a very difficult stretch, and while we didn’t set the world ablaze with the record, we held our own. We played in some tough environments -- primarily on the road, and got through it strong. Let’s see what the next 30 days have to hold for us, because right now we feel guys are starting to come around. The team is gelling a little bit more and we think brighter days are ahead.”

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.