White Sox

White Sox add free agent Austin Jackson to outfield mix

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White Sox add free agent Austin Jackson to outfield mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox made a nice addition with Austin Jackson on the way, a former teammate said Sunday.

The veteran outfielder has agreed to a one-year, $5-million deal with the White Sox, the team announced. The club designated Mike Olt for assignment to make room for Jackson on the 40-man roster. Jon Heyman first reported the signing.

Jackson, who finished last season with the Cubs, has the ability to play all three outfield spots, including an excellent center field, according to White Sox catcher Alex Avila. The two played together with the Detroit Tigers from 2010-14.

“He’s a good player,” Avila said. “He’s a very good center fielder, covers a lot of ground. He’s the type of center fielder that you never see him dive because he’s getting to them.

“He’s just a really, really great athlete. There’s a lot of options for him as far as being able to run the ball down, play the outfield.”

Jackson’s signing adds more depth to a thin roster. He produced 2.3 Wins Above Replacement last season for the Seattle Mariners and Cubs, according to fangraphs.com.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

With the expected offensive production of both Adam LaRoche and Avisail Garcia uncertain, Jackson gives White Sox manager Robin Ventura another option to mix into the lineup. Jackson also can spell Eaton in center and is a defensive upgrade over either Cabrera or Garcia in the corners. The move also comes at a time when Eaton is restricted to the designated hitter’s role because the team is being cautious with his throwing shoulder after he had nerve decompression surgery in October. Eaton said he 100 percent expects to be ready for Opening Day and Ventura said he wouldn’t be concerned unless its the final week of the spring and Eaton hadn’t returned to the field. Eaton has continued to throw in morning workouts and said he’s progressing nicely.

“Right now Herm’s not alarmed by it too much,” Ventura said after Sunday’s victory over the San Diego Padres. “I know Adam’s not, either. He’s feeling a lot better today than he was yesterday. Hopefully it’ll continue to improve, but I don’t see it as anything structural.”

Avila felt pretty good about the current roster before Jackson was added.

He signed a one-year contract with the White Sox in late November, well ahead of a series of other moves that has included trades for Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie and the signings of Jimmy Rollins, Mat Latos, Matt Albers and Dioner Navarro.

“Obviously, you could tell the front office has been busy trying to put together a group of guys that they feel is going to win some of those extra balls games, get you to that mark where you need to get to get to the playoffs,” Avila said. “ It’s exciting for players. For players, you should be excited about that because you know you’ve got a backing there from the top as far as we’re committed to win. Now it’s our job to be able to go out there and perform and win and get those W’s. That’ll be a long process over the course of the season. But as a player, it’s exciting when you’re on a team that is committing itself to wanting to win. There’s nothing more you can ask for.”

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.