White Sox

Sox Drawer: Tireless Williams makes another splash


Sox Drawer: Tireless Williams makes another splash

First it was Kevin Youkilis. Then Brett Myers. Now Francisco Liriano is coming to the White Sox. If Kenny Williams' cell phone could talk, it would probably say, Stop. Leave me alone. I quit.

But it cant. Neither can Williams. The White Sox have been one of the biggest surprises in baseball with a 2 12 game lead in the AL Central, and this deal could best be described as a shocker. The main reason? The White Sox and Twins, longtime division rivals, actually made a trade with each other.

The last time it happened was 26 years ago.

It wasnt that memorable either. On Sept. 3, 1986, the White Sox sent Kurt Walker to Minnesota for Pete Filson. Walker never played in the majors. Filson pitched in three games for the White Sox. Liriano was three years old, living in the Dominican Republic.

But now, hes coming to the White Sox.

When I spoke with Williams earlier this week about possible trade targets, he hinted that not only was a trade possibly coming, but it might be something unexpected.

Youd be surprised at some of the phone calls weve made, Williams said.

Zack Greinke was his first choice. Williams apparently hounded Brewers GM Doug Melvin, trying to pry the pitcher away, but the two sides couldnt come up with a match. Greinke ended up going to the Angels. Williams changed courses and landed Liriano.

We learned about the trade while on the air during White Sox Postgame Live. When I shared the news with Frank Thomas, his mouth nearly dropped to the floor. It was completely unexpected, just like the twists and turns of Lirianos career.

As a rookie in 2006, he went 12-3, was named to the All-Star team, and looked like the next Johan Santana. Later that season he underwent Tommy John surgery. Some thought his career might be over. He mainly pitched in the minor leagues in 2008. He went 5-13 in the majors in 2009. He threw a no-hitter in 2011 (against the White Sox). This season hes 3-10 and lost his last start to the White Sox giving up seven runs in 2 23 innings on Monday night.

So what can we expect of him? Nobody knows.

But we do know this, the White Sox now have a surplus of starting pitchers. Very few teams can say that. They have six healthy starters. If John Danks can come back (which is starting to seem unlikely), he would be No. 7. With Liriano, it allows Chris Sale and Jake Peavy to get extra rest between starts. Plus, if Mr. Fix It (pitching coach Don Cooper) can get Liriano back to his old form, or something close to it, the White Sox could have a steal on their hands.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey


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


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.