White Sox

Road Ahead: White Sox take on baseball's best in St. Louis

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Road Ahead: White Sox take on baseball's best in St. Louis

The White Sox head to St. Louis for a two-game set with the Cardinals, who own the best record in baseball. CSN's Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton weigh in on how the South Siders can have success in Missouri in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Honda Dealers.

The White Sox are struggling, there's no doubt about that.

So a date with the best team in baseball could be problematic. But as Bill Melton explains, perhaps the White Sox can fly under the radar and sneak up on the NL Central-leading Cardinals this week in St. Louis.

"It is the best team in baseball. And you know what happens a lot of time when a team comes down and plays against a contending team, sometimes that contending team kind of lays back," Melton said.

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One way to challenge the Redbirds? With great pitching. And the White Sox starting rotation has been pretty good despite the team's poor record. That includes Chris Sale, who's been excellent over his last several starts. He's racked up double-digit strikeouts in his last seven outings and eight of his last nine.

"It's really going to be an issue of who's going to pitch in that series. I still believe in this starting staff, and when you've got a couple of guys on this starting staff that can have a couple of big-time games, a lot of strikeouts, they can make it pretty tough on the Cardinals," Melton said. "I know the Cardinals right now are probably the best team in baseball, no question about it. They've got some pretty good starters themselves and a very good bullpen.

"(Sale's string of starts is) not as good as (Max) Scherzer's run, no question, but I want to put it about No. 2 in baseball. As far as having a run, I haven't seen three or four starts like this where he was so dominating. And all his stuff was working. Even when Minnesota hit him, his stuff was working. He has a tough time with the Minnesota Twins, but when his stuff works, it's kind of like Nintendo baseball or in the backyard. He's really — not only overpowering — but he gets good hitters like Joe Mauer ... he gets them out pretty easy."

Hear more from Melton on the White Sox in the video above.

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

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AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

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.