White Sox

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'prepared' to make big move now

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'prepared' to make big move now

He’d have preferred a better performance on their last road trip, but Rick Hahn is pleased with where the White Sox are from a macro standpoint.

The White Sox general manager said the front office hopes to upgrade a club that spent its 36th day in first place on Tuesday after only holding that position 11 times from 2013-15.

The White Sox entered a three-game series against the Houston Astros with a 24-14 record and a 4 1/2-game lead in the American League Central. While he acknowledged the club may not be able to make a move until June or July, Hahn said he’s ready to strike now if the chance to improve the club arises.

“We are prepared to make a big move today if it presents itself,” Hahn said. “Unfortunately, our timing might not line up with the other 29 clubs just yet. It’s still early in the process. A lot of clubs don’t look to make those moves until June or July. But we are having dialogue right now hoping something comes together more quickly than that.”

Hahn didn’t address any rumors surrounding the team’s pursuit of free-agent pitcher Tim Lincecum, who reportedly is close to signing a deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

But he sounds open to improving a club that entered Tuesday on pace to go 102-60 in any way, shape or form. That could mean adding an arm to a bullpen that has struggled of late -- the White Sox have a 4.98 ERA in relief in May after posting a 1.69 in April -- “It’s definitely a path we may well venture down,” he said.

Having already added Miguel Gonzalez last month, Hahn potentially could add to a rotation in need of consistency beyond Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. The White Sox would like to see more from Gonzalez, who has a 5.17 ERA and 10 walks issued in 15 2/3 innings. But both Hahn and manager Robin Ventura have acknowledged a high degree of difficulty in each of the right-hander’s three starts, given they come on the road against the Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers and New York Yankees. Gonzalez’s next turn comes Saturday against the Kansas City Royals.

“Like the mix of pitches, like the movement on his pitches, need to harness the command a little bit better to let him go deeper into games,” Hahn said. “But we’re looking for him to give us a chance to win and he has done that three out of three times so far.”

There’s also the possibility the White Sox could add a left-handed bat to a lineup loaded with right-handers.

No matter which direction they choose, Hahn is intent upon trying to win now. The team’s lead is the third-biggest in franchise history after 38 games behind only the 1957 and 2005 teams, both of which held leads of five games at this juncture. Hahn intends to take advantage of the team’s good start.

“When the chance to win comes along, you need to do everything in your power to maximize that opportunity and feed what the guys in this clubhouse, the coaches and players alike, have been able to build thus far in this season,” Hahn said. “We want to do what we can from a front office standpoint to continue that momentum, to reinforce where they have put themselves and again maximize our chances to win in October.”

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.