White Sox

Tim Anderson sparks White Sox offense in win over Royals

Tim Anderson sparks White Sox offense in win over Royals

Tim Anderson apparently brought some extra lumber up with him from Charlotte.

The team’s top prospect finished his major-league debut Friday night with two hits and the White Sox blasted a season-high four home runs in a 7-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals in front of 23,290 at U.S. Cellular Field. Anderson doubled in his first career at-bat and scored a run and Alex Avila blasted two homers in support of Chris Sale, who improved to 10-2. Melky Cabrera and Brett Lawrie also homered for the White Sox, who improved to 31-30.

“It was an awesome feeling when I was on deck going up for my first at-bat,” said Anderson, who received a standing ovation after his first hit. “I just had to think, ‘Is this really happening?’ It was a great feeling, and I had fun.

“Awesome timing. I’m enjoying the moment.”

Sale thinks this could be the first of many instances for the heralded shortstop, who was promoted from Triple-A Charlotte earlier in the day. The White Sox designated veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins for assignment to make room for Anderson, a first-round draft pick in 2013.

Anderson immediately sparked a stagnant White Sox offense from the ninth spot in the order.

Batting with one out in the third, Anderson ripped a 1-2 fastball from Ian Kennedy down the left-field line for a double in his first major league at-bat. Later in the inning, Jose Abreu ripped a two-out RBI single to left to tie the score at 1. Cabrera then caught hold of a knuckle curve from Ian Kennedy and blasted it out for a two-run homer to make it 3-1.

Anderson also singled with two outs in the sixth and finished 2-for-3.

“Being able to come in here and be able to take a deep breath and do what he did -- I mean, he had great at-bats all night,” Sale said. “It looks like he’s been here forever. Hats off to him.

“We’re happy to have him.”

In the fourth, Brett Lawrie hit his first homer since May 23 to put the White Sox up 4-2. Lawrie’s solo shot was his first in 64 plate appearances. Avila followed him with his first homer of the season to put the White Sox up three.

Two innings later, Avila continued to pour it on when he lined a 350-foot homer to right to put the White Sox ahead 7-3. Avila’s three RBIs surpassed his previous season total (two).

The offense gave Sale just enough to work with on a night in which he needed it.

“Any time he doesn't have quite his stuff, you want to be able to score for him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “They did that tonight.”

Sale allowed three solo homers, including two to Eric Hosmer. He also yielded three straight hits to start the seventh inning and 11 overall in six-plus innings. But Sale never relinquished the lead once the White Sox went ahead. After three scoreless from four relievers, Sale had his first win since May 19.

That only made a special night for Anderson even better.

“It was a good one,” Ventura said. “He's just at that point where it's time to see what he can do. Again, he's not coming up here timid, he's ready to play. It's a nice way to start it off, spark a little rally for us. I think later on he probably won't remember a whole lot of it. But it was just nice. He looked comfortable out there.”

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.