White Sox

Sox believe long-term payoff worth starting Stewart

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Sox believe long-term payoff worth starting Stewart

In the big picture, the White Sox may be better off because Zach Stewart started on Monday against the Cubs. The 25-year-old righty acquired from Toronto in last year's Edwin Jackson trade was given the start in the first game of the BP Crosstown Cup's second leg in an effort to give Chris Sale and Jake Peavy extra rest.

"We've basically had Peavy and Sale on a college schedule, pitching once every six days, once every seven days on occasion," general manager Kenny Williams explained prior to the game. "The reason why Stewart's pitching tonight, for instance, is so we can continue that and we're not taxing them."

Peavy and Sale have kept the White Sox rotation afloat for most of the season, with Jose Quintana and Gavin Floyd contributing spurts of success. Keeping the former pair fresh is a top priority, hence the decision to push both starters back.

But the short-term outcome of the decision came back to bite the Sox. Stewart gave up four homers in 5 23 innings as the White Sox lost 12-3 to the Cubs, although the Sox bullpen was responsible for half of those runs crossing the plate. The loss was the ninth the Sox have suffered in their last 13 games.

With winds gusting to 41 miles per hour during the game, Stewart had trouble keeping the ball in the park. That's been a problem for him all season, as he's allowed 10 home runs in 30 innings.

Stewart has made spot starts in the past, so he refused to use the short preparation time as a reason for his struggles.

"I've done it before. It's nothing that should have phased me too much or anything," Stewart said. "A few opportunities came about and I didn't make the pitch. They did what they were supposed to do with it."

Stewart was booed off the field, and plenty of fans took to twitter to not-so-subtly state their belief the righty should be shipped off to Triple-A. Ventura said after the game the Sox would take a look at their available pitchers tomorrow and discuss any potential roster moves then. But it may be worth noting Dylan Axelrod, who's posted a 3.18 ERA with Charlotte, made his last start June 14 and is fully rested.

One game of 162 is just a small blip on the White Sox 2012 radar. And while getting throttled by the team with the worst record in baseball certainly won't leave a good taste in anyone's mouth, it was much easier for Ventura and the Sox to stomach when looking long-term.

"That was the plan, anyway," Ventura said of getting Peavy and Sale more rest. "We weren't planning on John Danks not being able to make this start. But things happen as far as some guys being available, some guys aren't, you just gotta make it through.

"The goal is all the way through the year, keeping them as strong as they can be all the way through the year."

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.