White Sox

Rios' reaping rewards with new plate approach

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Rios' reaping rewards with new plate approach

NEW YORK -- The White Sox havent yet reached the halfway point and Alex Rios is already only three home runs shy of equaling last seasons 13.

The veteran outfielder -- who is hitting .341 with nine homers and 25 RBIs in his last 32 games -- has a .836 OPS, his highest mark since he was with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2007. Though his comeback perhaps hasnt received as much attention as those of Jake Peavy and Adam Dunn, Rios is clearly played a significant role in the White Sox strong first half.

He enters Thursdays series opener at the New York Yankees with .302 average, 10 homers and 40 RBIs. Last season, Rios hit .237 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs. He believes his success is the result of simplifying his process at the plate.

Im focusing on having a good approach at the plate and Im leaving the mechanics out of the equation, Rios said. Im just focusing on my approach more than anything else. (Last season) was tough. Who wants to come to the field and do bad? Now Im focusing on this year.

Manager Robin Ventura thinks a key for Rios is he isnt as concerned about failure. Ventura also noted Rios is more comfortable in right field compared with center field and feels like he can contribute with his glove.

Rios moved to right this season after he spent the previous two years as the White Sox full-time center fielder.

This season, Rios has a 6.9 Ultimate Zone Rating -- a metric that measures the runs a player saves against an average defender at the same position -- in right field, according to fangraphs.com. Last season, Rios had a -7.4 UZR in center.

He feels like hes playing well and I think thats something that pushes guys over the top is hes not worried, Ventura said. In some ways, where guys get to that part where they are concerned about the consequences of not doing well, hes just playing. Hes confident enough he doesnt have to be concerned about results. He feels like hes going to contribute every day.

Rios -- who is signed through 2014 -- admits hes in a more comfortable spot than he was last season. He has done his best to put those struggles behind him. The way the White Sox have played thus far has made that task easier.

Last year is something of the past, Rios said. Im trying to help to us win games. Our team is pretty well-balanced. We have a good offense, good pitching. We have big name hitters who have been doing great and you have to be glad to be part of a team like that. Hopefully we can keep doing good and make the playoffs.

White Sox adjust 40-man roster — including adding Eloy Jimenez — ahead of Rule 5 Draft deadline

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USA TODAY

White Sox adjust 40-man roster — including adding Eloy Jimenez — ahead of Rule 5 Draft deadline

The White Sox made some adjustments to their 40-man roster ahead of Monday's deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.

Rules stipulate that a player who signed when he was 18 or younger and has played five seasons of professional baseball is eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft if he is not on his team's 40-man roster. Because of that, the White Sox — like the rest of the teams in the league — made some moves Monday to protect certain players.

The White Sox announced Monday afternoon that they purchased the contracts of infielder Casey Gillaspie from Triple-A Charlotte, outfielder Eloy Jimenez from Double-A Birmingham, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and pitcher Ian Clarkin from Class-A Winston-Salem and outfielder Micker Adolfo from Class-A Kannapolis.

Simultaneously, pitchers Chris Beck and Tyler Danish were outrighted to Charlotte.

The most notable name on the list is of course Jimenez, the highly ranked outfielder acquired from the Cubs in July's trade that sent Jose Quintana to the North Side. Jimenez was a no-brainer to be protected after he slugged 19 homers and hit 22 doubles with 65 RBIs in his 89 games in the minors last season, splitting time between Birmingham and Winston-Salem in the White Sox system and Class-A Myrtle Beach in the Cubs' system. Jimenez is ranked as the White Sox No. 1 prospect by MLB.com.

Gillaspie was acquired in the trade that sent Dan Jennings to the Tampa Bay Rays. The brother of former White Sox infielder Conor Gillaspie, he hit 15 homers and 20 doubles in 125 games all at the Triple-A level. Gillaspie is ranked as the White Sox No. 11 prospect by MLB.com.

Basabe, the White Sox No. 17 prospect, was in last offseason's Chris Sale trade and hit .221 with five homers and 12 doubles at Winston-Salem. Adolfo, the White Sox No. 14 prospect, was signed as a free agent in 2013 and hit .264 with 16 homers and 28 doubles at Kannapolis. Clarkin, the White Sox No. 22 prospect, was acquired in the seven-player trade with the Yankees in July and posted a 2.60 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 86.2 innings of work at the Class-A level.

The 27-year-old Beck posted a very high 6.40 ERA in 64.2 innings out of the White Sox bullpen last season. Danish made just one appearance with the big league club last season, getting his first major league win in the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.

Three months till baseball's back as White Sox announce spring training schedule

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USA TODAY

Three months till baseball's back as White Sox announce spring training schedule

Only three more months till the White Sox are back in action.

The South Siders announced their spring training schedule Monday, with Cactus League play commencing Feb. 23 out in Arizona.

The White Sox have the unenviable task of opening the exhibition schedule against the defending National League champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers playing hosts to the Pale Hose in Glendale. The White Sox will be the visitors, though they share the Camelback Ranch facility with the Dodgers, so they'll still be in their home ballpark. Their first official home game comes two days later, in a Feb. 25 matchup against the Cincinnati Reds.

The White Sox will face off against the Cubs in three "Cactus Crosstown" games on Feb. 27 and March 10 in Mesa and on March 16 in Glendale.

And in a cool wrap to the preseason, the White Sox will square off against their own Triple-A affiliate March 26 in Charlotte. The game against the Knights should be a fun watch considering all the future White Sox expected to make their way to the big leagues over the next couple seasons. The Knights' roster could be loaded with highly ranked prospects depending on how things shake out.

Here's the full schedule: