White Sox

Robin Ventura on White Sox rundowns: 'Get it right'

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Robin Ventura on White Sox rundowns: 'Get it right'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox coaching staff has been pleased with the overall look of the team’s defense this spring.

But not how the club has handled its rundowns.

After a week that included several botched plays, the White Sox went back to work on rundowns in the early portion of Friday’s workout. Not particularly pleased with the results of three recent plays, White Sox manager Robin Ventura requested the session.

“If they don’t get them right, we’re going to redo them,” Ventura said. “You’re just going over it to refresh and make sure they understand the mechanics of how we’re doing it and why we’re doing it.

“Some people might say it’s not a punishment. It probably is if you don’t get it right, so you go ahead and do it. Get it right.”

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Bench coach Rick Renteria is satisfied with the quality of work he witnessed Friday. Energy and enthusiasm from players was present, he said. Renteria said Ventura requested the additional work to make sure things are run smoothly and enough attention is paid to the details.

While rundowns were worked on earlier in camp, Ventura thought it was time for a refresher course.

“The guys were doing a nice job of trying to execute those as close as they could to kind of game speed,” Renteria said. “You don’t want anybody to get hurt, but they were doing it with some explosiveness in terms of being able to react and cutting the distance short between the guy with the ball and the receiving end of the tag.

“Things come up and you address and that’s what Skipper did. He said, ‘We’ve seen a couple, let’s just go over them again and clean them up.’ And that’s all you can do in camp.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Ventura is pleased to address the play in camp and before the regular season begins. He hasn’t hesitated in the past to deal with the team’s defensive woes in season. But he wanted to make sure his team didn’t miss on the opportunity to improve.

“We’ve been known to go back over it before,” Ventura said. “That stuff, you’ve just got to get it right, and it’s better to get it situated down here. I know we made a couple of mistakes on those, and it just can’t happen.

“We took care of it, and they should be good.”

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.