White Sox

White Sox opt to rest Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox opt to rest Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

One of the goals Todd Frazier set for himself this season was to appear in 162 games, if at all possible.

Illness earlier this week eliminated the possibility of the White Sox third baseman playing in every game when he missed Tuesday’s contest. Frazier’s high for games played is 157, a number he has reached in the last two seasons. And while he hoped to appear in every game, Frazier knows that to play with the energy level he and Brett Lawrie do, sometimes a day off is necessary. Lawrie is getting his first game off this season on Thursday night as the White Sox look to avoid a series sweep against the Houston Astros.

“You don’t not want to play,” Frazier said. “You want to play. But I remember last year after the All-Star break, I was exhausted and we had three games at home against Cleveland and, first time I’ve ever done this, I said, ‘Man, I think I need a day off,’ and Bryan Price was ‘All right, there you go.’ I didn’t know how to say it. I was just totally drained mentally and physically and got Sunday off and eventually went out and played. But it’s a manager’s job to figure out and I think everybody does need a mental day off. I guess mine was being sick, but I didn’t want to have a day off, I was feeling good. He determines that and you can fight it all you want, but when he makes that decision that’s what happens.”

Lawrie let White Sox manager Robin Ventura know he wanted to be in Thursday’s lineup.

But with Lawrie having played in 40 of 40 games, an off day was coming, Ventura said. That Lawrie hasn’t hit over the past six games -- he’s 3-for-25 with a homer, two walks and 13 strikeouts -- probably helped Ventura make the decision Thursday.

Avisail Garcia is also out of the lineup. Carlos Sanchez is playing for Lawrie and Jerry Sands is starting in the place of Garcia.

Ventura said the decision is an equal mix of finding playing time for his reserves and self-preservation for regulars.

“You would think so,” Ventura said. “(Lawrie) would probably beg to differ. But you have to give him a day at some point, and today's that day. 

“Sandsy and Sanchy have to play. You got to get them some time. (Lawrie) definitely pleaded his case, but it was either going to be today or tomorrow for either one, so today is the day.”

Now that 162 won’t happen, Frazier is more honest about where he’ll likely end up. He’d love to play them all, but after last season’s mental day he knows the value of taking a day off.

“For some reason (162) was one of my goals this year,” Frazier said. “That would have been pretty cool. I’ve got (157). If I’m at about 155, I’m doing something so that’s good. It attests to the training staff we have here, too.”

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.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.