White Sox

White Sox: Avisail Garcia works through struggles at plate

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White Sox: Avisail Garcia works through struggles at plate

Avisail Garcia knows exactly why he has struggled at the plate and recognizes some of the poor habits he has developed.

Now he has to learn how to implement into games what he and hitting coach Todd Steverson have worked on in the cage. The main focus of their work is for Garcia to use his hands more often, which requires better weight distribution.

The trick for Steverson is to keep Garcia — who hasn’t homered since June 8, a span of 188 plate appearances — from overthinking. Perhaps the team’s best hitter in April and May, Garcia has a .232/.267/.266 slash line with four doubles, a triple and eight RBIs since he last homered.

“He’s got phenomenal hands,” Steverson said. “Sometimes in hitting you start doing something you don’t know you’re doing it, and it becomes a habit, some good, some bad. Like, 'Where did this come from?'

“You want to access that but don’t want to make it a super duper issue — ‘OK, I can fix that. Now that I see I’m doing X, I should be able to do Y to help X.’

“That’s where he’s at right now. The talent is still there, but at the end of the day it becomes incumbent upon the player to make his adjustment after he has recognized it.”

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Garcia is aware of the problem and said Tuesday he feels better about his process. His main issue is that his weight shifts from back to front too far out front in his swing and he needs to find the middle. And because he’s too far out front, Garcia’s plate discipline has suffered — he’s striking out 27.8 percent of the time this season, up from 23.2 percent in 2014.

“I have enough power to hit the ball out of this ballpark,” Garcia said. “Just trying to use more of my hands, recognize the pitches because I have been swinging at a lot of bad pitches because my body is in front. When I start my at-bat, all my weight is in the back and then when the pitch is coming all my weight is in the front. I’ve got to be in the middle. Not too much back, not too much front, just in the middle to be successful, to use more of my hands.”

Garcia also knows some of the issue lies within his own head. He’s 6-foot-4, 240-pounds, and because of that body type, people expect him to hit homers. Garcia — who hit .296/.351/.453 with seven homers and 25 RBIs in his first 194 plate appearances when the rest of his team wasn’t hitting — admits he has overthought the lack of homers.

“I want to do more, that’s why,” Garcia said. “That’s not right. I’ve got to learn how I have enough power, I’ve just got to touch it. I just try to put the barrel on it, and that’s what I need to do. That’s it.”

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.