White Sox

White Sox go from 'All In' to 'Don't Care'

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White Sox go from 'All In' to 'Don't Care'

GLENDALE, Ariz -- Position players arent expected to report to White Sox spring training until Tuesday, but one-by-one the three hitters who struggled the most in 2011 all coincidentally arrived at Camelback Ranch on Saturday -- three days ahead of time.

Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, and Gordon Beckham.

Those are signs to me that guys are hungry to come back and play well, said manager Robin Ventura. Theyre willing to do that for the team and thats important in that theyre showing everybody else on the team that theyre already in. Theyre willing to come in and work, and do whatevers necessary.

Coming off his nightmare season of 2011 in which he batted .159 with 177 strikeouts, Dunn showed up Saturday looking to put it all behind him. He took batting practice in the off-season for the first time in his career, and recently met with new hitting coach Jeff Manto in Houston to help prepare him for the season.

My main goal is to be ready for Opening Day, and thats what Ill do, Dunn said matter-of-factly.

The White Sox slugger believes hell have a comeback season. So does his new manager.

Hes had success in the past, and thats what Im counting on, Ventura said. Ive seen him play. Ive seen him do well. I want him to come and be prepared and do that. He has a clean slate.

The same goes for Beckham, billed as a future star with the White Sox after his impressive rookie season in 2009. Unfortunately, his hitting woes deepened last season, batting .230 with 111 strikeouts. Gordon came to Glendale with a brand new mind-set, which could end up becoming the unofficial slogan for the 2012 White Sox.

Dont care. Dont care. Honey badger. Were all going to be honey badgers. Were not going to care at all this year, said Beckham, referencing the viral YouTube video about the fearless predator.

Beckham was joking -- sort of.

He plans on making White Sox honey badger t-shirts for his teammates, anything to help lighten the load after they carried -- and failed to meet -- such high expectations last year.

I think sometimes I take it way too seriously, Beckham said. I want to do so well for this team and for the fans, for myself that sometimes it gets too much of me. Be a little more carefree this year. Not care so much.

That calmer attitude will likely work for Beckham. What about Dunn?

Thats probably not my problem. I have enough fun for at least 23 of us sitting here, Dunn said with a smile. Ill still be myself.

No one is exactly sure which Alex Rios will wear a White Sox uniform this season. His Jekyll and Hyde stint so far has been exciting and dumbfounding, and everything in between. After having his best major league season in 2010 in which he batted .284 with 21 homers, 88 RBIs, and 34 stolen bases, Rios slumped big-time in 2011, hitting just .227 with 13 homers, 44 RBIs, and 11 steals.

I want to start over and have a very productive and helpful year. Thats what Im looking for, Rios said. I dont have any doubts in my skills. I know that I can produce. Its just a matter of staying positive, not cloud my mind with lots of things, like mechanics and all the things I was worried about last year. Its just see the ball, hit the ball. Thats what Im going to try to accomplish this year.

What position Rios plays in the outfield is a mystery. He prefers center and right, but those spots might belong to Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo.

Well see what happens, Rios said.

Ventura said Saturday that players will have to be flexible.

Guys will just have to be open to moving around and do whats best for the team.

Right now the team is walking into camp with a peaceful, easy feeling. Last year they were All-In. This year, with a more surfer mentality settling in, maybe the new slogan should be this:

Its all good.

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.