White Sox

White Sox enjoy Adam Eaton's spectacular start

4-29-adam-eaton-and-jose-abreu.png

White Sox enjoy Adam Eaton's spectacular start

Adam Eaton didn’t want to talk about his hot start to the season on Friday morning.

The leadoff man opted to let his performance speak for itself and was focused on the White Sox, who at 3-1 are off to their best start since 2005.

The first White Sox player with four straight multi-hit games to open a campaign since Nellie Fox in 1955, Eaton declined the only question about his performance in a group media session and instead discussed Friday’s hot topic, club chemistry.

“(The start) gives us confidence, definitely,” Eaton said. “It gives fans confidence. I think the credit is how we came together in spring training. Anybody who was in Arizona throughout spring training can second and back me when I say we really came together as a unit from Day 1 to when we left for San Diego. These are a special group of guys. We’re all pulling in the same direction, and that was pretty prevalent in the first four games of the season.”

[MORE: White Sox ace first chemistry test]

A year after he had a miserable start to the season, Eaton’s 2016 is headed in a much better direction.

In 2015, Eaton didn’t produce an RBI in his first 109 plate appearances. He hit .192 through the end of April and had a .497 OPS. Even though everyone struggled, Eaton wore it the hardest and missed three games with the flu in early May.

But then he rebounded and he hasn’t stopped hitting since.

Eaton had an .834 OPS after May 5 last season.

And through four games this season, Eaton’s play has been ridiculous.

He’s 9-for-16 and has reached base 11 times in 18 plate appearances. Eaton too has adjusted well to playing right field, tracking down most everything hit his way.

[SHOP: Get your White Sox gear here]

“We know he would always be an important tablesetter piece for us at the top of the order,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Certainly this last extended stretch here has been even beyond what I think would be reasonable to expect from a production standpoint. But from an important point of our lineup standpoint, it’s consistent with our expectations, meaning when he’s going well, it helps the rest of the line keep moving and runs scored.

“I think the only thing that probably surprises me with regards to Adam is some of the criticism that’s heaped upon him for small flaws in his game. Obviously there’s a few base running blunders here or there that he needs to clean up and is working on. Diving into bags at times, potentially risk some injury his first year here that we talked about.

“But this is an extremely valuable piece to a successful club and based on some of the criticisms or suggestions I’ve read over the last few months on him, I think some folks might miss his merit. They miss the benefit of what he does.”

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

0219_alec_hansen.jpg
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

0218-dylan-covey.jpg
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.