White Sox

Todd Frazier, White Sox work to get veteran out of early slump

Todd Frazier, White Sox work to get veteran out of early slump

He’s a little frustrated and admitted Monday that he hasn’t quite been himself at the plate.

But Todd Frazier said he remains upbeat and is ready to move on after a difficult first 12 games.

The White Sox third baseman watched video and did extra work in the cage before the start of a four-game home series against the Los Angeles Angels in an attempt to get right.

Frazier -- who was acquired in a three-team trade in December -- struck out four times in Sunday’s loss for only the third time in his career. So far he has produced at a .163/.196/.327 clip with two home runs and six RBIs in his first 51 plate appearances.

“If (I said) it didn’t bother me, I’d basically be lying to you because it does,” Frazier said. “It bothers me a lot. It’s something you never want to go through in any profession.

“I haven’t struck out four times in a long time. It happens. Does it? Of course. But you’ve got to figure out a way to get through that and we’ve been working with the coaches.”

After four strikeouts Sunday for the first time since July 28, 2014, Frazier suggested he may have chased too many pitches out of the zone.

But that hasn’t been the case for most of the season.

His PITCHf/x Plate Discipline has actually improved this season to 31.7 percent, down from 34.5 for his career, according to fangraphs.com.

The White Sox think Frazier has actually been hurt more often because he has missed his pitch. Frazier has only made contact on 77.8 percent of pitches in the strike zone, down from 84.4 last season and 82.3 for his career.

“He wants to do well, not for himself but for his teammates,” hitting coach Todd Steverson said. “And at that level sometimes you get a little outside yourself. It doesn’t mean it’s indicative of who you’re going to be for the next 550 at-bats. But he may have got a little outside of himself. That said, it’s easy to bring himself back when he realizes that I’m better than this, what I’m doing to myself.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Frazier is a player he doesn’t feel he has to worry about.

Ventura thinks he may be pressing, a point to which Frazier agreed. But Ventura likes how the veteran’s struggles haven’t carried over into the field; Frazier has already produced one Defensive Run Saved, according to Fangraphs.

The White Sox think that as long as Frazier can simplify things, he’ll bounce back.

“He does a lot of things other than just swing the bat,” Ventura said. “Just play the game, relax and let it come to you a little bit more. He's going to be fine.

“I talk to him every day. He's fine. He's not somebody to worry about, for me. He just plays the game. I think there's a lot of times there are guys that want to do a lot of things to help you win. Sometimes you don't need to do that. Just let it come to you and he's going to be fine.”

A two-time All-Star, Frazier has experience slumps before. He’s confident he and the White Sox offense will soon start to hit. It makes it easier that the White Sox are 8-4, too.

“Just one of those stretches,” Frazier said. “We’d rather have it earlier than later in the year. Everybody is upbeat. I’m upbeat. First 50 at-bats, you can just wash them out the door. Nothing you can really do now. Just attack it and go about your business.”

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

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AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

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.