White Sox

Sox not putting added weight on sweep of Texas

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Sox not putting added weight on sweep of Texas

Three wins. Thats whats most important to Paul Konerko and the White Sox.

It doesnt matter that those three wins came against the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers, who also happen to own a major-league high 50 wins this season.

The White Sox completed a three-game home sweep of the Rangers with a 2-1 victory Tuesday. The sweep came on the heels of a four-game series split with the New York Yankees, who have the top winning percentage in the major leagues.

I dont think you make too much of it, Konerko said of beating the Rangers. You catch teams at different times, different periods in the year. I know teams have caught us when we didnt have it going, and got us good. So I dont think we really think about who its against as much as were just happy to get the wins.

The wins against the Rangers came in three different ways: a blowout (19-2 in the opener), a comeback (5-4 in 10 innings Wednesday), and a pitcher's duel (2-1 Thursday).

Recently-acquired Kevin Youkilis had an impressive series in his White Sox debut at U.S. Cellular Field. He drove in four runs in the first game before collecting game-winning RBIs in the final two games, including a sixth-inning home run Thursday.

But like Konerko, the veteran said the midweek sweep doesnt prove anything.

You have to play to your strengths and play the game -- you cant measure, Youkilis said. Its way too early to do that stuff. Once you get to the playoffs, the best team can get knocked out in the first round. But it is always good to beat the teams that are in first place.

The White Sox improved to 45-37, moving eight games over .500 to match a season high. They hold a 2 12-game lead over Cleveland, which plays later Thursday, and are 4 12 games ahead of Detroit, the preseason favorite to win the AL Central.

They swept the Rangers for the first time since 2001, in earning their sixth sweep of the season. They also snapped the Rangers major league-leading streak of 52 consecutive series without being swept. It was the first time the Rangers had been swept by anybody since June of 2011, when the Yankees did it.

After a poor start to the season at home, Chicago is now above .500 at U.S. Cellular Field for the first time since being 2-1 on April 15. The White Sox have done that by going 15-8 over their past 23 home games.

Added all together, and it appears the White Sox should be considered a pretty good team. Just dont expect them to use words like good or great.

We can play with anybody, manager Robin Ventura said. Somebody else is going to have to describe that. We just keep playing.

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.