White Sox

Twice is nice: White Sox turn second triple play of season

Twice is nice: White Sox turn second triple play of season

Although this one looked far more normal than the last, Dan Jennings had his doubts the White Sox would turn another triple play.

Lo and behold, the White Sox turned their second triple play in less than a month in a contest they dropped to the Houston Astros 5-3 on Wednesday night.

It’s the first time the White Sox have turned two triple plays in the same season and they’re the first team to accomplish the feat since the 2007 Philadelphia Phillies. Todd Frazier started the play when he fielded George Springer’s grounder, stepped on third base and immediately fired to second.

“My first thought when I saw Frazier going to second, I thought he was nuts,” Jennings said. “I thought he was going third to first, get two and move on. He went to second and obviously made the right call.”

Frazier said the three-outer is the first he’s been involved in like this. He also participated in the team’s 9-3-2-6-2-5 April 22 triple play against the Texas Rangers. But this one had a more normal look to it.

“That was a conventional triple play,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We like them all though.”

Jennings particularly liked it. He walked Tony Kemp and Jose Altuve on nine pitches to start the inning with the White Sox trailing by two. Springer swung at a first-pitch slider from Jennings and hit it directly to Frazier, who hopped to the base and didn’t hesitate to throw to second. Lawrie’s relay to first was in plenty of time to get the speedy Springer.

“It takes one pitch sometimes,” Frazier said. “I keep telling the pitchers when you get in a grind get us that groundball, let us play defense and let's work. And that's what we've been doing.”

But the White Sox couldn’t take advantage of any momentum gained. Astros relievers Will Harris and Luke Gregerson retired the final six men they faced to send the White Sox to their fourth straight loss.

Jennings enjoyed the experience but would have liked a win, too.

“You go from that to a 10-pitch inning,” Jennings said. “That’s unbelievable. Guys out there saving me pitches, saving me runs, saving me everything and keeps us in the game. Hats off to the fielders out there.”

“That’s fun. It sucks to lose, and that’s the end result. But something like that makes the game fun and keeps you in check that we are playing a game and you do have a little fun even in a loss.”

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.