White Sox

White Sox try to set 'standard' with lengthy first workout

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White Sox try to set 'standard' with lengthy first workout

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With so many new faces in camp, Robin Ventura emphasized exactly what the White Sox want from their players before Tuesday’s workout.

The manager and his coaching staff held a lengthy meeting before the team hit the field at Camelback Ranch to participate in its first full-squad workout. Ventura has said several times he wants his club to be on the same page early in the season and that they would put in enough work to ensure that happened. The White Sox, who have nine new players on their 40-man roster, then practiced in excess of three hours.

“It's about the team, what we expect, what I expect from them,” Ventura said of the meeting. “They should expect it from themselves. There should be a standard that we have, and they should be able to enforce that themselves as well. We'll be there to do it, but we've set our own standard with how they should be playing every day.”

The White Sox would need to produce a much crisper brand of baseball if they hope to snap their losing seasons streak at three. Not only did the 2015 offense lead the league in inducing boredom, the club’s base running was bad and its defense was downright atrocious.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Jose Abreu 'working on' his English]

With three quarters of a new infield and a new catching combination in place, Ventura has a chance to start fresh. He took advantage of the opportunity to make sure the team’s newest players have a sense for guidelines.

“It was sloppy for me,” Ventura said. “It's not always easy to watch. Now you bring new guys in, you want them to understand the level that we want to play at. When it doesn't go well, that's what it looks like.”

White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu likes the feel of the new roster. He said he agreed with the sentiments of Todd Frazier, who thinks the White Sox have the potential to be a special team.

“I have the same feeling,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “From the first day that I came here and I met (Rick) Renteria and Frazier, that’s the feeling. Today, the first practice, everybody was happy and was laughing and making jokes. That’s the kind of atmosphere that we need here. We need to feel the chemistry and be like a family. That’s something we need to build from here.”

Though the first work out lasted into the early afternoon, Ventura said he thought it was necessary to cover everything. Even with a clubhouse full of professionals, it’s clear Ventura wanted to bring a business-like tone to the first day of camp.

“It was a long one, but it's just stuff you need to go over,” Ventura said. “In talking to them before we went out, getting everything done, sometimes these days take a little bit longer.

“We got everything in today that we needed to get in. I think that's the main part. Everybody's fine with it. We're getting through what we need to get through.”

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— Outfielders Avisail Garcia and Adam Engel arrived at camp on Tuesday, meaning everyone arrived on time. Asked if he thinks the White Sox still have confidence in him, Garcia said: “Yeah, for sure. They believe in me, and I believe in me too. I’ve been working really hard. I know I have a lot of talent, and I just have to keep working and believe what I’m doing and trust myself.”

— Ventura was asked if the addition of so many new personalities was a gamble. “I think if you’re just getting a personality. But I believe we got personalities that can play. So that's not really a gamble.”

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.