White Sox

Unusual uncertainty surrounds Alexei Ramirez heading into offseason

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Unusual uncertainty surrounds Alexei Ramirez heading into offseason

With the season just one day from being over, Alexei Ramirez is starting to realize that this may be his last season on the South Side.

The White Sox shortstop is entering the offseason with the fate of his future with the team in the front office's hands. Ramirez, 34, has a $10 million club option for 2016 or a $1 million buyout. 

Ramirez claims he has not yet talked with the front office about his upcoming contract situation.

[MORE: Tyler Flowers set for arthroscopic knee surgery next week]

"I’m just focusing on my game," Ramirez said through a translator. "I don’t want to think ahead of that. I’ll see what happens after tomorrow. I’m just focusing on my game every day."

2015 has not been kind to Ramirez, who could post career low numbers in a handful of categories: home runs (10), batting average (.250), OPS (.645) and WAR (1.1). These numbers in addition to the eventual promotion of Tim Anderson and the position flexibility of Tyler Saladino put Ramirez and the organization in a difficult spot.

"We didn’t accomplish our goal," Ramirez said "It was to get into the playoffs. When you don’t accomplish your goal, it’s not a good season. While you can get stuck thinking about it, you have to think about the future and what you have to do to be a better team next year."

White Sox GM Rick Hahn made his first organizational change when the team dismissed bench coach Mark Parent. While Hahn admitted the coaching staff will largely return after Parent's departure, he envisions roster changes this offseason, and Ramirez's unclear future gives the veteran a feeling he's not used to entering the upcoming weeks.

[RELATED: Robin Ventura will return to White Sox in 2016]

"Yes it’s kind of tough because I’ve been here for eight years, and I like this team," Ramirez said. "I like all the people that work here. They’re like a family. I don’t want to even think about being on another team. I want to be here. I want to finish my career here."

Another unusual part of Ramirez's offseason will be his family trip back home to Cuba. The shortstop hasn't been home in eight years (since he signed with the White Sox) and is unsure of what his experience will be like coming home. 

"I’m very anxious about it because I don’t know what to expect," Ramirez said. "I don’t know how the people there will receive me. It’s good and I’m excited. But at the same time, I’m anxious because I don’t know what is going on there. 

"From the moment I’m going to be in the plane, I’m going to be very excited. I don’t know how to describe it right now because I have to live in the moment but it’s going to be very emotional."

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.