White Sox

White Sox offense struggles, drop Game 2 to Indians

White Sox offense struggles, drop Game 2 to Indians

Jose Abreu continues to struggle and the White Sox offense followed suit in the nightcap of a doubleheader Monday.

Cleveland Indians starter Cody Anderson struck out nine batters and helped his team avoid a doubleheader sweep as the White Sox lost Game 2 by a 5-1 count at U.S. Cellular Field. Anderson wiggled out of a first-inning jam by retiring Abreu and limited the White Sox — who put 18 men on base in a 7-6 win in Game 1 — to five hits in seven innings. Erik Johnson allowed five runs, including three home runs, in 6.2 innings.

“He’s got a nice fastball, but the changeup/breaking stuff was much better than we’ve seen it before,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Their guy was up to it.”

Abreu doubled in nine at-bats in the doubleheader and stranded seven runners on base, including three early in the second game.

Anderson, who entered the game 0-3 with a 7.99 ERA, didn’t give the White Sox many opportunities. They had a shot at him early as Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera both singled with two outs in the bottom of the first inning and no score. But Abreu quickly fell behind 1-2 in the count, fouled off a pitch and weakly grounded out to first to end the threat.

Abreu also stranded a runner in scoring position in the third inning with the score tied at 1.

Frazier doubled with two outs and scored on Cabrera’s game-tying single and advanced to second on a Jose Ramirez error. Abreu, who stranded a pair twice in the opener, struck out to end the third. He went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position in the doubleheader and is now hitting .236 in 67 plate appearances with 18 RBIs.

The strikeout of Abreu was the third of the inning by Anderson, who retired the final 13 White Sox hitters he faced.

“It was just one of those games where good pitching it will beat good hitting any day,” outfielder Austin Jackson said. “He was using all of his pitches. You really couldn’t sit on one pitch up there. We really didn’t get anything going to get those timely hits.”

Looking for a lengthy start, Johnson kept the White Sox competitive for six innings. He allowed a solo homer to Ramirez in the second inning. Rajai Davis jumped on a 3-0 pitch in the fifth inning for a two-run homer to put Cleveland ahead 3-1. Juan Uribe blasted a solo shot off Johnson to start the seventh inning, the first homer he’s hit against the White Sox in 26 career plate appearances.

Johnson allowed five earned runs and six hits with three walks in 6.2 innings. He struck out five.

“Certain situations like the 3-0 to Rajai, where you have an open base, you have to be smarter than that than to throw one right over the plate,” Johnson said. “Just a few pitches I wish I had back. For the most part, I’m thankful for another opportunity to help this team out as best I can. If those opportunities keep coming, I’m more than happy to keep rolling out there.”

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.