White Sox

White Sox give Adam LaRoche breather to work on approach

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White Sox give Adam LaRoche breather to work on approach

BOSTON — Adam LaRoche will have two days off to find what has ailed his swing.

The White Sox designated hitter wasn’t in the lineup on Monday nor is he expected to be on Tuesday as the club gives him time to figure out his approach.

Admittedly frustrated and baffled, LaRoche is 6-for-49 with one RBI and 20 strikeouts over his last 14 games. Manager Robin Ventura thinks LaRoche’s .265 OPS in that span is likely a combination of not seeing the ball well and poor mechanics, which has the veteran in one of the longer funks of his career.

“Then your mind can become involved,” Ventura said. “You can send yourself down a road that you don’t believe you are going to do some damage. I think for him, it’s getting that feeling back. He went through a little bit of it in Toronto, where he got a good feel going for a little while.

“Probably give him two (days) just to work out some things. I know you can get frustrated. I know he’s frustrated.”

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LaRoche hasn’t homered since June 24, a span of 91 plate appearances. He has struck out 31 times in the stretch and is whiffing in 30.3 percent of his plate appearances in 2015, a career-high rate. Last season, LaRoche struck out a career-low 18.4 percent.

Ventura has had many conversations with LaRoche and knows what the veteran has endured in the first season of a two-year, $25-million deal with the White Sox. Ventura is glad LaRoche has the experience to know he’ll find it once again. He also believes the two days should help.

“Rochey can kind of work it out in the cage and have a couple of days knowing he can go in there and work on some stuff,” Ventura said. “He’s trying to figure it out, so he’s working through it. You continue to do that. He’ll be back in there to play. But for two days, he’s going to ease the mind and not be in there.

“He’s been through some stuff, and he’ll fight through it. You have to get to that point where you’ll fight through it. He’s going to do that.”

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.