White Sox

Todd Frazier has found niche in White Sox clubhouse

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Todd Frazier has found niche in White Sox clubhouse

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Todd Frazier said he feels right at home with the White Sox just in time for a visit with his old friends.

He’s only been with the club for a month, but the White Sox third baseman is comfortable in his new surroundings. When he arrived in camp, Frazier -- who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in December -- said he’d take his time figuring out his place in the White Sox clubhouse. But that process has been smoother than Frazier expected, he said after Saturday’s 9-7 loss to the Reds at Camelback Ranch.

“It’s come very easily,” Frazier said. “Finding a niche is tough to do. But when you have professionals that come in here, new guys and old, you talk to the guys who have been here before. You have to know your ins and outs of Chicago, the team, how we go about things and what the staff wants. Then you’ve got the new guys, veterans like Jimmy Rollins. He brings his prowess in. It’s been a fun spring. Everybody is ready to go. Everybody was ready to go last week. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see the different attitudes and the different way we go about things this year. I can’t wait.”

[MORE: Carlos Rodon to work on slider after rough outing in White Sox loss]

Frazier was equally excited to face his old team for the first time. He went 2-for-3 with a run scored and has one more chance to face the Reds on Wednesday. He spent part of the game talking with third-base coach Billy Hatcher, who has moved over from first base this season. Frazier said he also joked around with some of his former teammates, too.

But Frazier isn’t looking back.

“It was fun to see the familiar faces,” Frazier said. “The guys were nice. It was one of those fun games to see the guys you used to play with. It looks like they’re doing pretty well, so I’m happy for them. At the end of the day, I’m a White Sox. It was good to see them, but I’m trying to get ready for the season.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

How Frazier prepares is one of the reasons why he has become so popular among his new teammates. Frazier is lively, energetic and focused in the team’s practice sessions. He’s had a role in team competitions in fielding drills where the losing squad serves lunch or an energy drink to the winners, things to keep it loose. Players and coaches appreciate the way Frazier and Rollins and others have kept things lively so late in camp.

“He likes to have fun, but he’s all business when he comes down to it,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s been a good addition for us, not only playing third base and the talent he has to play the game, but all of the intangibles that come with him. He’s a good piece. He fits in any part of the clubhouse, whether it’s English or Spanish. He fits in any realm of that clubhouse.”

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.