White Sox

White Sox prepare to face Orioles in empty stadium

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White Sox prepare to face Orioles in empty stadium

BALTIMORE -- After all options were considered, the White Sox and Baltimore Orioles will resume their disrupted series Wednesday afternoon in front of an empty stadium.

In deference to city and state officials and law enforcement, the Orioles and Major League Baseball determined Tuesday afternoon to move the start time of Wednesday’s game up by five hours to 2:05 p.m. EST in a contest that is closed to the public.

After several days of civil unrest following the death of Freddie Gray, MLB and the two clubs -- who already canceled contests on Monday and Tuesday -- don’t want to jeopardize the public safety efforts of local law enforcement, whose resources may be needed elsewhere. The Orioles also announced that Monday and Tuesday’s games would be made up in a May 28 doubleheader.

“We tried to make it clear from the start: we’ll do what everyone feels is in the best interest of everyone’s safety and getting the games played in the best environment that we can under the circumstances,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said from Eutaw Street outside of Camden Yards on Tuesday afternoon. “We’re willing to do whatever it takes to get these games played in the safest possible way.”

Hahn said both clubs offered potential solutions after the cancellation of Monday’s game about 50 minutes before first pitch. With a citywide curfew in effect beginning at 10 p.m. Tuesday for the next week, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday that all options would be considered, including potentially moving venues.

Even though Nationals Park is only 40 miles away and not in use this week, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Orioles never called to request use of the site. That could be related to a television rights dispute between the clubs related to MASN, the sports network the two teams share.

[WATCH: Dan Hayes sets the scene of unrest in Baltimore]

Other scenarios considered included moving up Tuesday’s first pitch to as early as 1 p.m. White Sox manager Robin Ventura had his players on call Tuesday morning in case they needed to be at the park.

But none of those options ever came to fruition.

The Orioles have already moved this weekend’s home series with the Tampa Bay Rays to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“There was talk of us playing today, playing during the daytime,” Ventura said before an impromptu afternoon workout. “I know there’s a curfew they have in place here for the next week. There was a chance we could get a phone call and we’re playing during the daytime. For us, we’re just sitting and waiting. I know the Orioles are too. It’s sensitive for everybody.”

The waiting ends Wednesday afternoon in what promises to be one of the more surreal scenes in MLB history. The normally packed 45,971-seat venue will be almost completely empty when White Sox leadoff man Adam Eaton faces Baltimore’s Ubaldo Jimenez.

Eaton, Hahn and White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers all said the experience is akin to B games in spring training and minor league promotions.

“The only disadvantage may be for the home team because you kind of feed off the energy,” Eaton said. “When you're on the road there's not much energy in your favor usually. If anything Baltimore may be slighted a little bit.”

[WHITE SOX ROAD AHEAD: Will Carlos Rodon see a start on road trip?]

Said Flowers: “Catching wise it might be more pleasant for me, not hearing people make fun of me. I think I'll be locked in when I'm on the field.”

Either way, the scene promises to be different. English Premier League events have been played in similar circumstances after fan issues but Hahn couldn’t recall any sporting events in the U.S. being played in empty stadiums.

As strange as it may be, Hahn and the White Sox are on board with the plan.

“It’s going to be an interesting experience, a little bit different but obviously from a safety standpoint it makes sense,” Hahn said. “Also it helps potentially relieve some of the logjams later in the season in terms of makeup games. We certainly support the decision of Major League Baseball and the Orioles and we’ll be here ready to go.”

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.