White Sox

Williams still looking to add before trade deadline expires

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Williams still looking to add before trade deadline expires

MINNEAPOLIS -- White Sox general manager Kenny Williams was succinct when asked Sunday afternoon if he might possibly make any more trades.

Yes, Williams said without offering anything else.

Even after a wild five-week period where Williams completed trades, which brought Kevin Youkilis, Brett Myers and Francisco Liriano to the White Sox, the veteran GM will continue to try and find ways to further improve his first-place team.

While there are only precious hours remaining before Tuesdays 3 p.m. nonwaiver trade deadline, Williams has plenty of time to make deals. Clubs can also acquire players who have passed through waivers before Aug. 31 and still use them in the postseason.

So with upgrades already made at third base and in the setup role, and Liriano in to bolster a young rotation, where else might the White Sox try to improve the roster? Heres a look at several possible positions:

Middle infield: With Eduardo Escobar gone in the deal for Liriano, the White Sox promoted veteran Ray Olmedo, 31, to the roster. Olmedo has 899 minor-league appearances at shortstop, where he has a .952 fielding percentage in 14 seasons. Olmedo also hasnt been in the majors since 2007, which could make him a temporary fix as Williams looks for a better solution.

Left-handed reliever: Currently the role of left-handed specialist belongs to rookie Leyson Septimo, who has all of 8 13 innings pitched in the majors. Left-handed hitters are just 2-for-16 this season against Septimo, who also only allowed four hits in 42 at-bats to lefties in the minors. But he is susceptible to walks -- he has issued four -- and had a difficult outing against all left-handers in Boston, where Adrian Gonzalez hit a three-run homer off him after he walked Carl Crawford and David Ortiz.

Veteran Matt Thornton has limited lefties to a .230 average over his career, but theyre hitting .256 against him this season, which may prompt Williams to add an arm.

Fourth outfielder: Jordan Danks has proven to be a capable defender who can play all three spots in the outfield. Danks 1.2 Ultimate Zone Rating -- a metric which measures how many runs he saves over the average defender at a position -- shows he has contributed in limited playing time. He also has 11 hits in 35 at-bats and can run, as evidenced by 18 steals at Triple-A Charlotte in 2011. But Williams may again prefer a veteran who could fill in if any of his starters are lost to injury.

The White Sox players are happy with the way their roster is currently constructed. The team feeds off a strong core of veteran players. Chemistry is strong this season and players have found a way to brush off bad times and never get too high when things have gone well. But even if Williams adds to the mix and alters the roster, the White Sox are confident they can handle another change or two.

Well welcome anybody at any time and Kenny knows that, pitcher Jake Peavy said. We feel very good about our chemistry we have in this clubhouse and are not in any way concerned about any move Kenny would make affecting that. Weve got a core group of guys who will keep each other going in the right direction.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

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.

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

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AP

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.