White Sox

White Sox' win streak ends at six as John Danks struggles again

White Sox' win streak ends at six as John Danks struggles again

BALTIMORE -- John Danks’ margin for error just isn’t very wide.

He and the White Sox discovered that yet again on Thursday night when the Baltimore Orioles made the veteran pay for several third-inning mistakes. With several potential options to choose from, whether or not the White Sox will give him another start to find a rhythm becomes the big question.

Danks surrendered a pair of long home runs and allowed six earned runs and the White Sox fell to the Orioles, 10-2, at Oriole Park at Camden Yard in front of 14,568. The loss snapped a six-game White Sox winning streak and is the team’s first defeat since Danks’ last start on April 21. A “miserable” April for Danks ended with his fourth loss in four starts and a 7.25 ERA.

“There’s 24 guys in there that are setting the world on fire,” Danks said. “That’s probably the most disappointing part of it. Shoot man, we were hot. Still are. These guys are going to be bounce back and we’ll be fine. But damn, got in the way of something special tonight.”

For Thursday night at least, manager Robin Ventura didn’t discuss if the team plans to make a change at the back end of its rotation. But the White Sox have shown they may entertain the idea.

A team off to its hottest start since 2006 jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run homer by Todd Frazier. But Danks yielded a run in the first inning and had to be bailed out by a great relay throw home to prevent a tie. Danks later walked Caleb Joseph to start the third inning and Manny Machado’s one-out double to right tied it at 2. Chris Davis launched a two-run homer to right-center field and Mark Trumbo followed with a solo shot to put the Orioles ahead 5-2.

Danks put up zeroes in the fourth and fifth innings, but exited after he surrendered a leadoff double to J.J. Hardy in the sixth. That run eventually scored during five-run Orioles rally against Jake Petricka.

Danks allowed nine hits and walked two while throwing strikes on 56 of 96 pitches.

“He’s just living in the middle of the plate and this is not the team to do it with,” Ventura said. “Right now we’re trying to make him better and we’re going to continue to work at that and continue to make him better so he can help us.”

It was only earlier this week when the White Sox went to the minor leagues for help when they promoted recently signed starter Miguel Gonzalez to give him an opportunity. While Gonzalez showed rust in Monday’s start, he also settled in against a tough Toronto Blue Jays lineup, which allowed the White Sox to rally for a big win.

Ventura said he was impressed with how Gonzalez handled himself against the Blue Jays in his first big league start of the season. However, Ventura didn’t make any commitments about the right-hander’s future and Gonzalez was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday.

But the decision to push Danks out of the series in Toronto, a team against whom he has poor numbers, raises questions about how long the White Sox might keep him in the rotation.

Ventura noted on Monday that the White Sox have several options from which to choose if they need help in the rotation.

Jacob Turner has a 2.49 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings at Charlotte. Erik Johnson, also at Charlotte, has a 3.24 ERA in three starts. And there’s Gonzalez, who went 30-21 with a 3.45 ERA from 2012-14 with the Orioles before he fell off last season.

“I don’t know if we’ve necessarily had that for a while,” Ventura said.

The White Sox have Monday off before they start a six-game homestand on Tuesday. That means they could skip Danks’ next turn in the rotation without moving around any of their other starters, a group Danks acknowledged is “dealing.” They also could stash him in the bullpen.

Danks felt confident he was dealing this spring in Arizona. He showed better fastball command than he had in some time, which had the White Sox front office feeling cautiously optimistic. But Danks didn’t have any fastball command on Thursday and he paid for it. For now, Danks said all he could do is work to improve and ignore the big picture.

“I’m in no position to pitch from behind, deep, long at-bats,” Danks said. “I’ve got enough to worry about here than anything else. I’ll be ready to go. I’ll work hard. I’m not going to pout or anything. Never have or never will. I guess it’s part of it. It’s not easy, but there’s only one thing to do and that’s work hard and get ready to take the ball.”

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

0219_alec_hansen.jpg
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

0218-dylan-covey.jpg
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.