White Sox

Trayce Thompson's success extends to righty pitchers

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Trayce Thompson's success extends to righty pitchers

Doesn’t matter who he faces, Trayce Thompson continues to have success at the plate.

Given the chance to start against right-handed pitchers on consecutive days after he mostly was paired up versus lefties, the White Sox outfielder produced four hits in seven at-bats, including a homer, a walk and four RBIs.

Thompson — who has a .408/.453/.714 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 53 plate appearances — said he has noticed how pitchers have adjusted their plan of attack and he has done his best to keep pace. After Thompson homered in the second inning of Wednesday’s loss, Cleveland pitched him outside and he finally was able to execute in his last at-bat with an RBI single to right center.

“The biggest thing is just feeling out what they’re trying to do to you,” Thompson said. “Like my last at-bat, I know they’re trying to go away with most of the time, especially after my first at-bat. So my second and third at-bat I didn’t make the adjustment. I had to do it in my last one on that first pitch. There’s stuff every day that I’m still learning.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Don Cooper likes Carlos Rodon's progress, expects more]

The White Sox have spent the past 5 1/2 weeks easing Thompson into life in the big leagues. They almost entirely played Thompson against left-handed pitchers (he only had 11 plate appearances against righties before Tuesday), which hasn’t gone over well on social media with fans clamoring for more playing time and media constantly asking about it.

The club has even continued the practice with right-handed pitchers as both Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin are worse against righty hitters than lefties.

“Some of the previous games we’ve had they’ve been really tough on righties,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “A young guy, you’re getting him in there, he’s had a nice run against lefties and now you’re getting a look at him with righties, but you’re also trying to make it a positive thing for him. He’s going up there with a pretty good chance.”

Thompson feels like he’s in a pretty good spot to have success. Not only does he feel comfortable at this level — “it’s the same game,” Thompson said — but he’s confident. And he has a solid support system in place as well.

“I just gotta stay within myself,” Thompson said. “And I feel like I’ve done a good job of that. A lot of guys are helping me here. Everyone is making me feel comfortable. Harold Baines and Daryl Boston every day before the game in (batting practice) and stuff, I’m working with them. They’re making me feel good, and I’m getting a lot of help. It’s been real comfortable for me, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

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.