White Sox

White Sox: Nate Jones to begin rehab this week

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White Sox: Nate Jones to begin rehab this week

Nate Jones is expected to begin a rehab assignment later this week after a successful simulated game on Monday afternoon.

The White Sox reliever, who hasn’t appeared in a game since April 2014, impressed coaches and members of the front office with his pregame effort at U.S. Cellular Field. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Jones would head out on an assignment this week, though he suggested the right-hander’s recovery wouldn’t deviate from the rehab program.

“Nate looked great,” Ventura said. “Velocity, just coming out of his hand was better than you could expect from where he was and what he’s doing now.

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“I know he’s going to go out this week and start pitching again and from there you see how he does. It’s not accelerated because he looked good throwing out here. There’s a plan there and you’re going to stick with it.”

Still three weeks shy of the one-year mark for his reconstructive elbow surgery (July 29), Jones faced major league hitters Monday and got an adrenaline rush. It was the seventh or eighth simulated game Jones has thrown since mid-June. Jones admits, he has “the itch” but also understands how important it is to not rush his program.

“You feel like you’re getting closer and you want to hurdle ahead, but you can’t do that, you’ve got to stay calm, stay patient,” Jones said.

He credits some of his patience to fellow reliever Jesse Crain, who has worked out with him in extended spring training since March. Also on the comeback trail, Crain hasn’t pitched in the majors in more than two seasons.

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“He’s like there’s no reason to rush it because if you rush it, something else could happen and you would be set back again,” Jones said. “It’s been nice to have him down there to talk to.” 

“I feel like we’re getting close.”

Ventura believes the same thing. Last month, Jones threw fastballsbetween 96-98 mph and his slider was good, too. Now it’s time for Jones to finetune the process as he attempts to return to the White Sox.

“Velocity-wise he could probably go pitch right now but just the feel of it, throwing strikes, slider, offspeed stuff, not quite the feel you’d like him to have to be able to pitch for us,” Ventura said. “But coming out of his hand, he’s excited, it’s fun to see him go out there and throw like 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.