White Sox

White Sox relieved to bring eight-game losing streak to an end

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White Sox relieved to bring eight-game losing streak to an end

The White Sox took the first step toward regaining their confidence on Saturday.

With a 3-2 win over Texas, the White Sox snapped an eight-game losing streak that sent them plummeting toward the bottom of the American League. There’s a long way to go for a team that had playoff aspirations heading into the season with a revamped roster, but the hope inside the White Sox clubhouse is Saturday’s narrow win finally began the process of turning things around.

Elvis Andrus’ third-inning error on what would’ve been an inning-ending double play ball off the bat of Alexei Ramirez allowed two runs to score, and coupled with Adam LaRoche’s sacrifice fly earlier in the frame it was just enough support for Carlos Rodon and a bullpen that pitched in with three dominant innings.

While the White Sox still left nine on base and only had one hit in eight tries with runners in scoring position, the error by the usually sure-handed Andrus was the kind of good fortune the team had missed during its eight-game malaise.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“There’s times when things are going well you expect those breaks,” LaRoche said. “When things aren’t going well you almost expect the other team to get those breaks. It feels like nothing we do is either the right move or nothing we do is good enough. We seemed to be down late in ballgames. When things are going well, you can almost expect good things to happen and they do. It’s a confidence thing. That’s what we need to get back on that track.”

With the losing streak behind them, White Sox players said there were both frustrating and encouraging aspects to it. In five of the losses, the White Sox allowed three or fewer runs and were only blown out once — an 11-0 drubbing in Pittsburgh as the Blackhawks celebrated winning the Stanley Cup Monday night.

Pitching hasn’t been the problem, even though David Robertson’s blown save Friday night after Chris Sale’s 14-strikeout masterpiece was a gut-puncher. The White Sox offense just couldn’t get a hit when it needed to (and still didn’t Saturday), while the league’s worst defense continued to make mistakes.

“It’s just a matter of coming up with that big hit at the right time,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “If we mixed in a few more of those over the course of what we’ve done so far we’re a far better team in the standings than where we’re at.

“We’re not really panicking about it, it’s still early, but it’s getting late. It’s getting time to go. Hopefully we’re taking steps in the right direction to come up with those big hits and those big plays.”

[MORE: Rodon flashing his potential with White Sox after rebound start]

The White Sox entered Saturday with only three position players — Jose Abreu, Geovany Soto and LaRoche — having a positive WAR. The lineup is littered with established players hitting below their career averages.

While LaRoche said losing all those close games built up plenty of frustration, he finds it hard to believe the team-wide offensive malaise will continue for much longer than it already has.

“(I’ve) been saying it all year with this lineup, it’s tough to go out there and consistently not score runs,” LaRoche said, “which is what we’ve been doing.”

Whether or not the White Sox have a quick fix for its glaring defensive and baserunning issues remains to be seen. But for the first time in 10 days, the White Sox left the clubhouse Saturday with a glimmer of hope.

“Any time you go on a skid like this, it's always nice to get it,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You get that feeling away from you. But you can only feel good about it for a little while and you get back after it. You have to be able to continue momentum with it but there's a game tomorrow.”

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.