White Sox

Rick Hahn: White Sox need to improve 'brand of baseball' quickly

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Rick Hahn: White Sox need to improve 'brand of baseball' quickly

Sounds like the 2015 White Sox are quickly approaching Last Chance City.

At least in their current form they are.

Frustrated and disappointed by his team’s play, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn suggested Wednesday afternoon the window to turn things around is rapidly shrinking.

The White Sox opened a five-game homestand a season-worst seven games under .500 and in the midst of their second five-game losing streak of 2015.

Bothered most by an offense that has been shut out six times and scored three or fewer runs 33 times in 63 games, Hahn said changes are likely to occur if the White Sox don’t become the team they expected to be when the opened spring training four months ago.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“There does come a point though where you can only look at the back of the baseball card for so long and say it’s going to get better,” Hahn said. “You need to start seeing some results on the field before you have to start making changes.

“We are all in this together. Until a player is traded or there’s been a change on the staff or in the front office or with an advanced scout or whatever, we are all in this 100 percent together. We are all accountable together and we are all doing everything in our energy and efforts to put ourselves in the best position to win. “Should we get to the point where any of that changes, you’ll know and we’ll explain why.”

It’s not hard to see why the White Sox have underperformed so far this season despite spending $137 million on free agents.

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The offense has scored the second-fewest runs in the majors while the defense is ranked last in Defensive Runs Saved and Defensive Efficiency. The White Sox pitching staff ranks 25th in the majors with a 4.25 ERA and the team has run into 30 outs on the bases, which is second-worst in the majors.

The White Sox have had a few good moments mixed with a bunch of bad. But it hasn’t been enough for Hahn’s taste.

“I’m not seeing the brand of baseball we want to see on a consistent basis,” Hahn said. “We’ve had spurts, nice little stretches …

“But it’s been too erratic and when you’re not scoring runs and you’re not catching the ball it is a tough watch. And that’s not who we want to be or who we’re striving to be.”

While Hahn knows his players need to start making plays, he also put some of the onus on the coaching staff and front office as well.

“Communication is key,” Hahn said. “Making sure the right information is available. Making sure the right effort is being put forth. Making sure guys are healthy. Making sure they are getting the support they need in every element of their preparation.

“Ultimately, it is the players between the lines who bear the responsibility for their own performance. We need to make sure we are giving them everything we can from a coaching standpoint and from a scouting standpoint and from an objective analysis standpoint to succeed. We don’t have a lot of control over what happens between 7 and 10, but we have a great deal of control over putting these guys in position to fulfill their potential and we’ve got to make sure we are doing that.”

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.