White Sox

White Sox: Chris Sale has 'earned the right' to appear in All-Star Game

White Sox: Chris Sale has 'earned the right' to appear in All-Star Game

His second-half schedule would have to be altered, but it appears all systems are go for a Chris Sale appearance in the All-Star Game.

While the rosters won't be announced until Tuesday, Sale’s fifth All-Star nod is but a mere formality. And unlike last year, when the left-hander didn’t appear in the exhibition because he pitched only two days before it, Sale has an extra 24 hours with which to work as he’s next scheduled to start against the Atlanta Braves on Friday.

Sale, who is 14-2 with a 2.93 ERA in 17 starts, would also seem to be in consideration to be the American League’s starting pitcher in the Midsummer Classic.

“I don’t see that as an issue of him being able to pitch in the All-Star Game,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I would like to see him do whatever he wants to do. He’s earned the right to do it. Whether they ask him to do it and he does it is another thing. It’s always an honor to play in the All-Star Game and to be the guy who is asked to start it is special. It doesn’t come around very often for a lot of guys and to do it is a feather in your cap.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The White Sox weren’t too keen on Sale pitching in the 2015 All-Star Game even though American League manager Ned Yost preferred to start him.

Sale threw 115 pitches in a seven-inning start at Wrigley Field and earned the victory on Saturday, which would have meant he only had two days off before the contest. As late as Monday morning before the Tuesday game, Yost said he intended to use Sale and had received permission from Ventura.

“It took some convincing,” Yost said. “I think (Ventura) understands and I understand. I understand how important (Sale) is to that organization and it’s one of those deals where the world kind of wants to see him pitch. But everything is going to be good.”

Ultimately, however, Sale didn’t pitch. This year, Ventura doesn’t see it as an issue. Were Sale to throw, the White Sox would adapt their starting rotation plans for the beginning of the second half, which opens July 15 at the Los Angeles Angels.

“He won’t come back and start on Friday, that much I know,” Ventura said. “He’ll get a little rest knowing he would throw in that game because he’s throwing Friday, depending how deep he goes in that game, and what happens Tuesday if he throws in that game. You’re going to give him the proper rest to slot back in that he would feel comfortable and strong when he goes back out there.”

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.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.