White Sox

White Sox promote Tyler Saladino, immediately start him

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White Sox promote Tyler Saladino, immediately start him

He heard he’d make his major league debut as he walked in the door on Friday, but 10 minutes later Tyler Saladino had to check the lineup card “just to make sure.”

About 24 hours after he learned of his promotion from Triple-A Charlotte, Saladino, a seventh-round pick in 2010, joined his new White Sox teammates in the cozy confines of the visiting clubhouse at Wrigley Field.

Saladino who started at third base and hit second for the White Sox in the opener of their three-game series with the Cubs, couldn’t shake the grin from his face as he made his way through the clubhouse on a “surreal day.”

“It’s definitely a different ballpark,” Saladino said. “I haven’t seen anything as big as this, but it’s still kind of surreal. At the same time, game starts in a few hours, so I’m getting ready for that.

“It’s a blessing for sure. Obviously it’s a dream I’ve been chasing my whole life, and it means a lot and I just want to make the most of it. I’m ready to go.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Looking for a spark on offense, the White Sox like Saladino’s ability to play each infield position and hope he can hit. Saladino, who had Tommy John surgery last season, hit .280 in 25 spring training at-bats. He experienced shoulder tendonitis earlier this season -- he’s fine now -- but got out to a slow start. But over the past 22 games at Charlotte, Saladino has a .289/.364/.458 slash line with four home runs and 19 RBIs in 99 plate appearances.

“He knows the game, he knows how to work the count,” hitting coach Todd Steverson said. “He showed in spring training he has the ability to hit the ball to all fields, he works on his game, he has a pretty simplistic approach, which is nice when you come up here. He may have a few nerves … Let’s see how it plays out for him.”

The White Sox liked how Saladino hit in 2014 before his elbow injury.

They also like his versatility on the infield. A shortstop by trade (426 of his 533 minor-league games have come there), Saladino has appeared twice at third base this season. But he also played there enough in spring to feel comfortable, he said. Even though the coaching staff likes what they know of Saladino, nothing has been etched in stone.

“We’ll get through today first before we make a definite plan and anchor somebody over there,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.

[MORE: Jeff Samardzija finding his groove before returning to Wrigley Field]

On an emotional high, Saladino was still looking for the ground after a wild 24 hours that began with an earlymorning phone call. He didn’t remember to pack everything and made phone calls to family, hung out with roommate Trayce Thompson and then realized he only had a few hours before his flight to Chicago. Saladino arrived at 6:30 p.m.

The instant he walked in the clubhouse Friday, Saladino was greeted by Ventura, who informed him he was in the lineup. Ventura also gave Saladino crucial information about the visiting clubhouse and sent him on his way.

He wasn’t sure he’d be in the lineup but Saladino said he wasn’t overwhelmed by the news, either.

“It’s just like any other day -- you have to be ready no matter what,” Saladino said. “I didn’t know what to expect, so I just treat it like any other day and be ready to play.”

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.