White Sox

White Sox record that 'one' much needed win against Tigers

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White Sox record that 'one' much needed win against Tigers

Their losing streak was at five games but it had been nine days since the White Sox left the ballpark feeling good.

And while they know Tuesday night’s 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers was full of mistakes they must fix, the White Sox can live with that reality given the end result. For after they endured an almost indescribable week of hardships, some out of their control but the majority of their own doing, the White Sox felt their first positive feeling since they beat the Kansas City Royals twice on April 26.

“Wins always feel pretty good, but there’s certain times when you just need one and this would definitely qualify as one of those times,” said designated hitter Adam LaRoche. “We’ve had the situation in Baltimore, a bunch of off days there and then we got a bunch of guys sick and nothing really coming together. It seemed like everything was falling apart, so it was nice.”

[MORE: White Sox preach accountability as losing streak comes to an end]

When they left Chicago on April 26, the White Sox had played their best baseball of the season against the Royals. The defense looked sharp and the pitching was strong enough to take two of three from the defending American League champions.

But everything quickly went downhill.

Monday’s riots left the team hidden inside their hotel for two days except for a Tuesday workout. They followed that up with a resounding loss to the Baltimore Orioles in the most surreal setting for a game in major league history and then were hit hard by flu-like symptoms that were bad enough to send Adam Eaton home two days early.

On the field, the team’s starting pitching went in the tank, as did it’s offense, and the defense and base running were atrocious. But during a team meeting Tuesday, one shortstop Alexei Ramirez said through an interpreter wasn’t out of the norm, players and coaches stressed that “the past was the past” and they needed to focus on the Detroit Tigers.

Jeff Samardzija helped stop the White Sox woes with seven strong innings, pitching around three errors.

“That was a terrible road trip for us, we weren’t happy with the way it went,” Samardzija said. “It wasn’t the most normal road trip in the world with what happened in Baltimore and everything. So we just needed to regroup and understand that we have a great team here and we just need to go out and do what we do. We came out and played a strong game and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”

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

Ramirez said the White Sox have to keep the focus. There’s no question much more is needed if the White Sox are to get back on track after a 9-14 start. The defense has been shaky, players have made poor decisions defensively and on the bases and the offense hasn’t put together a consistent run to date.

“There's definitely some things in there we don't like seeing,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You have to be able to clean it up to win consistently. That's never going to change.”

But for now, they’ll take what they’ve been given and build from there. Hard as it is to say any team is desperate for a victory only 23 games into the season, this may have been as close as it gets.

“Some of those wins, it doesn’t save your season, but it can definitely boost just that team confidence and morale,” LaRoche said. “Come out tomorrow feeling a little bit better. You come back and you’ve lost four or five games in a row and it sucks, it’s depressing. This is nice.”

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.