White Sox

On a roll, White Sox could add before Friday's deadline

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On a roll, White Sox could add before Friday's deadline

BOSTON -- Whereas last week chances were strong the White Sox would trade Jeff Samardzija, it now appears they actually could add to their roster.

Two baseball sources have indicated Samardzija still could be available, albeit for an exorbitant cost. But as of Wednesday, it sounds as if the White Sox have shifted priorities courtesy of their six-game winning streak. Instead of selling, the White Sox, who began Wednesday 3 1/2 games out in the wild-card race, would more likely attempt to augment their roster prior to Friday’s 3 p.m. CST non-waiver trade deadline. Given the correct fit doesn’t disrupt the team’s chemistry, Samardzija and his teammates seem open to the concept of reinforcements for a possible postseason run.

“As long as you’re adding the right guys, I think it’s great,” Samardzija said. “You need to know your personality of the clubhouse and the guys you have in there and when you add the similar type personality guys, things usually work well.

“You’ve got to match up personalities and how does he fit into the team?

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“But if you hit it right, it can be a huge addition to a team.”

Based on previous comments by general manager Rick Hahn, the White Sox are likely in the market for low-cost pieces, though they also could add more expensive core pieces that fit in the team’s three-year plan. But Hahn has suggested he likely wouldn’t want a costly rental player headed for free agency.

With a strong starting rotation and bullpen already in place, the White Sox likely can focus on the offensive end, whose hot bats are the reason why the club has shifted strategies of late, not unlike many other teams. One type of bat they could explore would be a right-handed power hitter to come off the bench or start against left-handed pitchers. Mike Morse, who reportedly has been traded by the Miami Marlins to the Los Angeles Dodgers, could be a fit as he’s a redundant piece on the Dodger roster. Boston’s Mike Napoli, a free agent after the season, might come with a low price tag, too.

[MORE: Rumors of trade not affecting Samardzija]

But Robin Ventura insists the White Sox will learn everything they can about any potential targets and how they’d fit.

“When you’re bringing a guy in, you’re careful and you want to know who it is and how they fit into your team,” Ventura said. “Other teams do that same thing. Depending on who they bring in, it changes the dynamic. It can change sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst. So you’re careful about introducing people, especially at times like this.”

From the sound of it, the White Sox would overwhelmingly need the better end of a deal were they to trade Samardzija. One source said the price tag for the right-hander, who is 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in five July starts, is extreme, “probably too high.”

How much?

[ALSO: LaRoche returns to lineup after two-game absence]

The White Sox have asked for more than what the Cincinnati Reds received in return from Kansas City for Johnny Cueto, who nearly every evaluator and analyst has ranked ahead of Samardzija. But given their position in the wild-card race and that they could recoup a compensatory pick if Samardzija left in free agency, as well as get his services over their final 63 games, a National League source isn’t upset by the team’s stance.

“They’re forcing someone to wow them,” the source said. “The second wild card has really complicated things.”

Transitioning from sellers to buyers so quickly isn’t as big of a phenomenon in the clubhouse as it is outside, leadoff man Adam Eaton said. Though it took nearly four months to happen, the White Sox have begun to live up to their own expectations. But while they admit it's more fun to come to work, the team has handled its success the same way it handled the up-down nature of the first 90 games --- with an even-keel approach.

“If we add, great, if we don’t, we’ll continue to move forward,” Eaton said. “The season is funny, the season is very long and our production wasn’t there early. But guys are starting to hit their stride, pitching on the mound, relief and in the box. We’re happy to see it start coming out a little bit.”

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.