White Sox

White Sox notes: Robin Ventura to miss Tampa Bay series

robin-ventura-missing-tb-series-slide.png

White Sox notes: Robin Ventura to miss Tampa Bay series

The White Sox will follow the Blackhawks to the Tampa Bay area this weekend, but they’ll do so without manager Robin Ventura.

Ventura is off for this weekend’s series against the Rays to attend the graduation of his daughter, Madison, from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The fourth-year White Sox skipper also missed a game last year to attend the graduation of his daughter, Rachel, from Oklahoma State, his alma mater.

Bench coach Mark Parent will manage this weekend’s series at Tropicana Field. Ventura will return to the dugout when the White Sox open a two-game series against the Pirates at PNC Park Monday.

Robertson back on track

David Robertson’s rough few days north of the border look like a small blip on his season’s radar.

[RELATED - Jose Quintana keeps resolve as White Sox finally provide support]

After blowing saves on Josh Donaldson home runs in back-to-back games in Toronto last month, Robertson has returned with five consecutive scoreless outings, including consecutive saves against Houston Tuesday and Wednesday.


While Robertson went a week between appearances (May 29 to June 5) in that stretch, he’s only allowed three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in it. His season ERA is down to 2.02 and only five relievers (Dellin Betances, Drew Storen, A.J. Ramos, Zach Britton and Andrew Miller) have been worth more WAR than him this year.

“He’s tough,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “I’ve faced him a few times and it’s not fun. It’s a heavy ball, it’s got that cut on it and it will disappear on you. He has a tremendous curveball. When he’s throwing his curveball for strikes, it’s a tough at-bat for anybody. He’s definitely been a nice weapon to have down there at the end of games.”

Ventura impressed by Correa’s debut

Twenty-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa, considered baseball’s top prospect after the Cubs called up Kris Bryant earlier this year, made his major league debut at U.S. Cellular Field this week and made a strong impression on Ventura even as the Astros were swept by the White Sox.

Correa went 4-for-12 with his first home run — a towering two-run blast off Zach Duke Tuesday — and stole a base. But what Ventura was most impressed by from watching Correa was his poise despite his young age.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

“Good luck to everybody (else),” Ventura said. “He’s very impressive. Even watching him on the field, you see a kid — usually you will see some jitters or something. He’s not rushed. Anybody that things he’s rushed, he’s not rushed to be up here. He’s a Major League player and he’s going to give people fits for a long time.”

Mixed bag for Semien

Statistically speaking, former White Sox infielder Marcus Semien is off to a better start in Oakland (0.9 WAR) than Alexei Ramirez (-0.6 WAR). But Semien committed his 20th error Wednesday night, and the 24-year-old could be on his way to a dubious achievement this season. 

Advanced defensive metrics are a little kinder to Semien, with defensive runs saved pegging him as being worth minus-five runs and ultimate zone rating minus-six. Offensively, though, Semien’s having a solid year: A .276/.327/.421 slash line with six home runs and seven stolen bases. 

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.