White Sox

Young White Sox shortstops eager to work with Jimmy Rollins

andersonsaladino022316.png

Young White Sox shortstops eager to work with Jimmy Rollins

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Shortstop Tim Anderson smiled Tuesday when he was asked about the potential impact soon-to-be teammate Jimmy Rollins could have on his career.

Though the signing of Rollins to a minor-league deal on Monday could influence his immediate playing time, Anderson’s focused on the big picture. Both he and second-year man Tyler Saladino said Tuesday they intend to take general manager Rick Hahn’s message -- that Rollins’ addition could really benefit their career -- to heart.

Rollins, who would earn $2 million if he makes the big league club this season, is expected to arrive in big league camp on Thursday. Anderson can’t wait to take the field with the former National League Most Valuable Player.

“I may get star-struck when I see him,” Anderson said. “It’s a guy I look up to, and I’m really looking forward to working with him.

“Just working with him and learning a lot from him, I’m pretty sure he can teach me a lot.”

“(Rick) was just saying take advantage and learn a lot. Ask anything you need.”

[RELATED: White Sox address another question with signing of Jimmy Rollins]

The White Sox see the addition of Rollins as a move with several layers.

They’re without Alexei Ramirez for the first time in eight seasons, which means playing time is up for grabs. And all the candidates to assume the starting role don’t have much major league experience. So on the one hand, Rollins, a four-time Gold Glove winner, could become the team’s starter, if he’s still capable.

But there’s also the other aspect, what Rollins brings in the form of leadership and in the clubhouse. The White Sox are intrigued on both ends.

“Just having a guy who has been that guy before that both Saladino, Tim and our other young players can see how he goes about his business, keeps his body in shape for a full season, how he prepares for games will be beneficial,” Hahn said.

Rollins handled a similar role last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, working with their top prospect, Corey Seager, before Seager ultimately took over.

“Mentor type guy that you can trust and be able to teach the young guys,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We know where he’s at in his career. He knows where he’s at himself. That’s a role he’s taken on before.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, White Sox fans!]

Saladino said Ventura spoke to him as they exited the field on Monday and he urged him to continue to be himself in camp. Even though circumstances have changed, the White Sox want Saladino to maintain the same approach he planned to bring to spring training.

They hope he embraces Rollins’ presence and soaks up whatever he can. For his part, Saladino sounds prepared to follow that plan.

“Pretty much just keep doing what you’re doing,” Saladino said. “It’s just exciting. Who wouldn’t be excited about getting to work with a guy like that? As far as the competition side of it, you can’t veer off what you do every day.

“A guy like him, his experience and the level he has played at for so long, it’s going to be an honor to be out there working with him.”

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.