White Sox

White Sox: Trayce Thompson revels in first big league homer


White Sox: Trayce Thompson revels in first big league homer

Trayce Thompson came back to the dugout and no one wanted to talk to him.

The White Sox rookie, making just the second start of his career in Tuesday night's game against the Angels, had to resort to air-fiving his unresponsive teammates after banging his first big league home run in the fifth inning.

The standard-issue lack of response from teammates after a first-career homer ended after Thompson made his way to the end of the White Sox dugout, and the celebration begun in earnest.

"These guys like to have fun," Thompson said. "It was great. It was awesome. It was funny."

[MORE WHITE SOX: Carlos Rodon flashes ace potential in White Sox win over Angels]

Thompson took his old minor league teammate, Hector Santiago, deep for his first roundtripper as a major leaguer, adding to the fun. And joy was in ample supply after the game, when Thompson reflected on the solo shot that finished off the scoring in Tuesday's 3-0 White Sox win.

"It kind of felt like I’ve been there before. It’s something I’ll remember forever, that’s for sure," Thompson said. "It’s funny that Hector has been my friend, but it just felt like another game, just felt like another home run until I got to the dugout to see all those guys. But yeah it was just nice to help the team and contribute."

Thompson's famous brother, Klay of world-champion Golden State Warriors fame, contributed to the celebration, tweeting out congratulations after his brother hit the homer.

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Thompson said after the game that it's been amazing to share his journey with his family, and this is one more of those big moments.

"Yeah, if it wasn’t for them, me growing up I wouldn’t be here that’s for sure," Thompson said. "Two of the best sports moments of my life was watching Klay make his debut and my oldest brother (Mychel) making the Cavaliers. Two of the top most happy, thrilling, nervous, anxiety — it was amazing to see their accomplishments. Their support means the world to me. They’re my two best friends in the world and they always will be, so it’s awesome that they back me up."

Thompson was in Tuesday's lineup as designated hitter Adam LaRoche continues to struggle. Melky Cabrera slid into the DH role for a night, freeing up left field for Thompson. After spending seven seasons in the minors, his success so far — he's 4-for-8 with a double, a homer and a walk in four games — could lead to more opportunity in the final two months of this season.

"It's always special to get your first homer," manager Robin Ventura said. "I think any guy, for him to come up here, he's contributing. That's the biggest thing. We've seen him the last couple years, he's continued to improve and develop and grow. I think that's part of seeing guy the last couple years and making it. He's been that kid that has developed into a nice product. He's getting a chance to play, and he's taking advantage of it."

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey


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


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.