White Sox

Celebrate new Hall of Famer Jim Thome with his top five moments in a White Sox uniform

Celebrate new Hall of Famer Jim Thome with his top five moments in a White Sox uniform

Congratulations are in order for new Hall of Famer Jim Thome.

The Peoria native will almost certainly be wearing a Cleveland Indians cap in his Hall of Fame plaque, but his four seasons on the South Side were full of big moments and long home runs.

Here are Thome's five best moments in a White Sox uniform.

5. Thome's two-homer, seven-RBI night

Thome was on a nice streak in July 2009, and in back-to-back games against the Minnesota Twins — a team he'd later play for — he combined for seven RBIs. Well, in the next game, a series-opener against the Baltimore Orioles, he matched that total with seven RBIs in one game on a pair of home runs. The first was a three-run shot that broke a 3-all tie in the fifth inning, and he made it a monster night with a sixth-inning grand slam that sent a 6-5 game to a 10-5 game that ended in a 12-8 White Sox win.

4. Thome joins the 2,000-hit club

Thome finished his big league career with 2,328 career hits, but the one that put over the double-millennium mark came in a White Sox uni in 2008. Thome had two hits in that July 20 game against the Kansas City Royals (an eventual 8-7 White Sox loss), but the leadoff double in the seventh inning was the history-maker, the one that put him in the club that still has just 286 members.

3. Thome starts his White Sox tenure with a bang

Thome was a big addition to the defending World Series champs following the 2005 season, sliding right into an already power-packed lineup. He showed exactly why the White Sox brought him aboard, homering in his first game on the South Side, the same night the team raised its championship banner. That homer expanded a 4-3 White Sox lead to a 6-3 White Sox lead in what finished up as a 10-4 White Sox win to kick off the 2006 campaign.

2. Thome plays Blackout Game hero

The White Sox and Twins were knotted in a first-place tie after 162 games in 2008, forcing one of the most celebrated moments in recent South Side baseball history: the Blackout Game. With the stands full of black-clad fans, the White Sox and Twins got wrapped up in a pitcher's duel until Thome scored the game's lone run with a solo shot off Nick Blackburn in the seventh inning. That tie-breaking roundtripper sent the White Sox to a 1-0 win, an American League Central championship and the 2008 postseason. It sent Thome into White Sox lore forever.

1. Thome smacks No. 500

With the 2007 season coming to a close, Thome joined one of baseball's most legendary orders: the 500-homer club. And the slugger did it in epic fashion, following up Danny Richar's game-tying homer in the eighth with a tie-breaking two-run blast in the bottom of the ninth, giving the White Sox a walk-off win over the Los Angeles Angels. Hawk Harrelson's call of the milestone dinger has become just as memorable as the moment itself.

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.