White Sox

Sox Drawer: Kenny gearing up

559440.jpg

Sox Drawer: Kenny gearing up

MILWAUKEE -- Wisconsin might be known for its cheese, but when he arrived here for the GM Meetings this week, Kenny Williams suddenly found himself surrounded by some very hungry fish.

"There are some sharks kind of circling the waters," said Williams, referring to some of his fellow general managers who came to the meetings and immediately expressed interest in the likes of John Danks, Carlos Quentin and Gavin Floyd, players under contract with the White Sox for 2012, but could be available if the price is right.

Williams has been in these waters before listening to deals for his veterans but has rarely acted on them. He might do more than listen this time around.

To a greater degree, I am more willing to talk about maybe some of our veteran pieces, whereas past practice has been we were looking for those kind of pieces and not as ready to listen," Williams said.

If the Sox do deal any of their veterans, Williams says hed want either impact players or impact-type players in return, meaning guys with big upsides who can contribute right away or might be one year away.

Were more open to making potential moves that take us a little younger, take us a step back and live to fight another day if we can get what weve identified the type of targets you want in such a deal, Williams said. But whether you can get those targets or not remains to be seen. So were more open.

The Sox GM acknowledged that a trade proposal had already surfaced at the meetings that he had not considered.

Would you like to know what it is? he playfully asked a reporter.

Well have to use our imagination.

But no need to guess who will likely bat leadoff for the White Sox next season. The job seems to belong to Alejandro De Aza.

If I was making the lineup out, De Aza would be my leadoff hitter, Williams said. But Robin Ventura makes the lineup out and I have to respect that. He will be given a suggestion though as to the Opening Day lineup.

Williams says he plans on speaking with Adam Dunn sometime during the winter about his approach for next season. When Dunn arrived at spring training, he admitted that he didnt swing a bat during the winter, a routine of his that had worked in the past.

Thats expected to change, Williams said.

The struggles of Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham in 2011 have made Williams job more challenging for 2012, because hes not sure which players will actually show up next season. So as he charts a course this winter, the White Sox ship could be headed in any number of directions.

Its the most difficult offseason that weve had because I dont have a clear-cut direction where were going, and I wont until probably the winter meetings starting December 5, or maybe even after the first deal comes along that we like, he said.

Some might refer to this movement as rebuilding, others might call it retooling. Either way, changes are coming. Its just a question of who and how many.

Were going to explore all possibilities," Williams said. "Just because youre contemplating going young doesnt mean that you wont be talented, doesnt mean that you dont think you still have the necessary pieces to win if things go right and you get bounce back years from certain players.

That, in essence, would be the perfect storm, which is not easy to do, but something the Sox experienced in 2005. Who predicted them to win the division, let alone the World Series? Find the right crew members, get a nice headwind and who knows where youll end up.

Hopefully, land.

Volstad, Santiago show capability as rotation alternatives, but White Sox still have starting-pitching mystery this weekend

0424-chris-volstad.jpg
USA TODAY

Volstad, Santiago show capability as rotation alternatives, but White Sox still have starting-pitching mystery this weekend

Chris Volstad and Hector Santiago combined for one of the best outings by a White Sox starting pitcher this season.

These weren’t the names anyone expected to fit that description when the season began. But with struggles all around from James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, here the White Sox sit as they approach the one-month mark of the 2018 campaign.

Reynaldo Lopez has been excellent, no doubt about it, and Fulmer has turned in a couple nice outings, including in Monday’s win over the visiting Seattle Mariners. But against that same M’s lineup Tuesday afternoon, Volstad — who lasted 4.1 innings in a 1-0 loss — became the first White Sox starter this season not to issue a walk.

It was an important outing for Volstad, as well as for Santiago, who followed him up with 3.1 shutout innings of his own. The duo showed they’re both capable of serving as reliable fill-ins in a White Sox rotation that got a hole punched in it Monday, when Gonzalez went to the disabled list.

Shields, Giolito, Lopez, Fulmer. Those guys aren’t going anywhere. But should Gonzalez remain on the DL for an extended period of time, it doesn’t seem as if the White Sox need to be searching for options.

“Volstad and Hector both did a nice job. I thought they gave us plenty of outs, they gave us plenty of opportunity,” manager Rick Renteria said after Tuesday’s game.

But that doesn’t mean the South Siders are out of the starting-pitching woods for the remainder of this week. Shields will go in Wednesday’s finale with the Mariners. Giolito and Lopez are set to pitch in the first two games of a five-game road series against the Kansas City Royals on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

But Saturday presents a mystery, one that doesn’t seem to have an easy answer.

Thanks to that opening-weekend snow-out, there’s a doubleheader Saturday, and while Fulmer is in line to start one of those games, who will start the other? The White Sox will get a 26th man for that day, and that spot is typically given to a spot starter brought up from Triple-A. But given the White Sox current situation on the 40-man roster, there aren’t many options, meaning a player might need to be outrighted in order to make room for a spot starter.

Let’s get this out of the way first: It seems unlikely that Michael Kopech will make his major league debut in a spot start during an April doubleheader in Kansas City. Yes, Kopech has been good in his three starts with Charlotte, sporting a 2.40 ERA with 21 strikeouts. But he’s got just six total starts at the Triple-A level, and the White Sox have made it abundantly clear throughout the last several months that the necessities of the big league team during this rebuilding season and Kopech’s readiness for the majors are independent of one another.

It makes no sense to potentially cut short Kopech’s development at the Triple-A level because the big league rotation needs a spot starter.

The options, however, are limited.

Of the seven players who have started games for the Knights this season, two are on the big league roster right now (Volstad and Chris Beck), one is Kopech and one has a 9.75 ERA (T.J. House). One is on the 40-man roster, Ricardo Pinto, who made his first start at Charlotte on Tuesday. Pinto, though, would be on short rest Saturday.

The other two are Dylan Covey, who turned in a 7.71 ERA with the White Sox last season, and Donn Roach, who has made two career major league starts, most recently giving up four runs in 3.1 innings in a spot start for the Cubs in 2015. Covey and Roach have 2.95 and 1.88 ERAs at Charlotte, respectively. But the White Sox would need to make room on the 40-man roster to bring either up, even just for a day.

While it would be on “short rest,” perhaps the most logical option is just to start Volstad or Santiago on Saturday and start the other on Sunday. Tuesday, Volstad threw 66 pitches and Santiago threw 59 pitches, neither total approaching the qualification of a heavy workload, especially considering both veterans have plenty of starting experience under their belts.

Renteria talked about how well it worked using both guys in tandem Tuesday, but he might have to split them up to staff his rotation this weekend. It would also eliminate the need to remove someone from the 40-man roster. The White Sox could just bring up another bullpen arm as the 26th man, someone like Juan Minaya, who was on the Opening Day roster.

Renteria has already shown willingness to use his pitchers outside of the traditional “every fifth day” strategy. Shields and Fulmer both pitched in back-to-back games just last week. And Fulmer’s turn was moved up when Gonzalez went on the DL, pressing him into his third appearance in six days Monday.

The mystery likely won’t be solved, at least publicly, anytime soon. We’ll likely have to wait a few days to know for sure. Until then, it’s a guessing game.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Trayce Thompson - 'This is home'

trayce_thompson.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Trayce Thompson - 'This is home'

Drafted by the White Sox in 2009, Trayce Thompson never wanted to play for another team but the White Sox. 

All that changed in 2015 when he was dealt to the Dodgers in the Todd Frazier trade. Now back with the White Sox, Thompson talks with Chuck Garfien about the trials and tribulations of the last few years, the whirlwind of being on 4 teams in the last 4 weeks, how the White Sox threw him a lifeline bringing him back, how he wants to make the best of this new opportunity and more. 

Take a listen here or in the embedded player below.