White Sox

White Sox blast their way to win No. 20, drop Twins

White Sox blast their way to win No. 20, drop Twins

The White Sox plan to give away a Melk Man t-shirt to fans on May 19.

But they very easily could have distributed it on Friday night as Melky Cabrera delivered against the Minnesota Twins. Cabrera finished with four hits, including a pair of critical ones with two outs, and made a fantastic running catch as the White Sox beat the Twins 10-4 in front of 23,054 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Cabrera doubled in two runs in the first inning and singled in another during a critical fifth-inning rally that secured a 5-0 start for Mat Latos, who lasted five frames and allowed four runs. The White Sox became the first American League team with 20 victories courtesy of seven two-out RBIs, including three by Cabrera.

“This is definitely a win for the offense,” Latos said. “It’s not something you want to do, give up four runs. But it’s definitely good to have the offense that we have to come pick us up whenever we do give up that many runs.”

Unlike Thursday night, when they couldn’t take advantage of myriad opportunities, the White Sox offense cashed in on Friday. A team that entered the game 20th in the majors with a .237 average with runners in scoring position went 8-for-14, including five hits with two outs.

Cabrera was the first to strike against Ricky Nolasco when he followed a two-out error by Eduardo Escobar in the first inning with a two-run double to left-center field to make it a 2-0 game.

Four innings later, Cabrera boosted his offense again with another critical two-out hit in a 5-4 contest. It appeared as if the White Sox, who stranded 11 runners in Thursday’s loss, might come up empty again after Adam Eaton tripled and Austin Jackson singled on the infield with no outs.

With the infield drawn in, both Jose Abreu, who had a solo homer in the third inning, and Todd Frazier hit grounders directly at a Twins infielder, allowing no runs to score. But Cabrera worked the count and singled to left on a 3-1 pitch from Nolasco to drive in Jackson for a two-run lead. Brett Lawrie followed with another RBI single to make it 7-4.

“That was a big one,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You had an opportunity there and he came through. He's been swinging it great for us.

“Melky, there have been some big hits from him, knocking in some runs. And Brett's been doing the same thing. It was a big one later on, he hit one down the line that kind of started moving the needle for us and getting us a good lead.”

The White Sox scored three more runs in the seventh inning, all with two outs.

Dioner Navarro had a bases-loaded infield single and Tyler Saladino drove in two with a single to center.

The support proved to be critical for Latos, who allowed four earned runs in five innings for a second straight start. Latos retired the first five batters he faced, but got into trouble with two outs in the second inning as Kurt Suzuki singled in a run to make it a 2-1 game.

Two innings later, Latos left one up outside and Oswaldo Arcia blasted a two-run homer to left to reduce the White Sox lead to 5-3. Eduardo Nunez doubled to start the fifth inning and advanced on two consecutive deep fly balls — one on which Cabrera made an outstanding running catch in the left-field corner — to get the Twins within a run. Jackson and Eaton also contributed a pair of web gems to the cause of Latos, who allowed seven hits and walked two in five innings. The right-hander threw strikes on 55 of 95 pitches.

But he earned his fifth win in six starts as the White Sox continued to lavish him with run support. Latos started the game 35th among 151 starting pitchers with a per game, run-support average of 5.4 runs.

“It isn’t what I wanted, to go five innings,” Latos said. “Some day, sometime, I’ll find the seventh inning. It’s a team win. The guys really had my back.”

Eaton singled in two runs in the second inning to give the White Sox a 4-1 lead.

Abreu — who was later angered when Trevor May hit him with a pitch in the eighth inning, resulting in benches cleared and a Ventura ejection — homered off Nolasco in the third to make a four-run lead.

“That's what we expect,” Saladino said. “You're not always going to score a bunch of runs, but when you put up runs like that, it's not a surprise. It just shows that we put some good at-bats together and timely hitting, and like I said, it's what we expect of ourselves.”

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.