White Sox

Rick Hahn hopes James Shields trade is tip of iceberg for White Sox

Rick Hahn hopes James Shields trade is tip of iceberg for White Sox

Nothing is certain, but don’t count on James Shields being the last in-season acquisition the 2016 White Sox make.

While the club has stalled out and been hurt by its current 6-17 run, the White Sox won’t punt their season with 65 percent of the schedule to go as evidenced by Saturday’s deal for Shields.

The White Sox feel as if they have addressed one of their more pressing needs by adding right-handed stability to their rotation in Shields.

But White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is also quite certain the addition of a starting pitcher won’t solve all his team’s issues (see: left-handed bat and bullpen). He began moving the club in this direction with the release of John Danks last month, and it sounds as if Hahn is prepared to continue adding to his roster to make the White Sox a more complete club.

“There are other areas of need on this roster potentially over the coming months, and while the rotation was certainly a very important one — and frankly one we felt was going to be fairly difficult to address in the coming weeks leading up to the trade deadline given the supply and demand out there — we felt it was an important one to move on early,” Hahn said. “But it’s not the only need we see on this roster, and whether it’s from a prospect standpoint or an economic standpoint, we do feel like we are in a position over the coming weeks and months to augment the roster if the opportunities arise.”

Based on how the Shields’ deal is structured, the White Sox have both the ability to take on salary from teams looking to shed it or trade prospects to make more additions.

Of the $14 million remaining on Shields’ current salary for 2016, the White Sox are only on the hook for $5 million, according to a baseball source.

Between Shields and Miguel Gonzalez, whose split contract pays him a maximum of $1.5 million this season, the White Sox have so far used $6.5 million of the $13 million saved when Adam LaRoche retired. That could come in handy as teams look to dump players over the next two months.

Either way, Hahn promises to be on the lookout, something he’s made clear since his team began the season with a 23-10 record. Hahn is hopeful the addition of Shields fires up the White Sox until he can make another deal.

“I think an acquisition like this does have an impact in the clubhouse,” Hahn said. “Not only from the standpoint of the players realizing that the front office is similarly focused as they are to do everything in our power to help them win as many games as possible this year, but also by adding a guy who has been through these battles before, a guy who has been a leader on successful clubs and the influence he can have when its in difficult stretches like we’re currently going through right now or crunch time when it comes time for the playoffs.”

Daily White Sox prospects update: Four-hit day for Eloy Jimenez

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Four-hit day for Eloy Jimenez

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Double-A Birmingham

Eloy Jimenez had four hits, including a pair of doubles to boost his batting average to .322 on the season. Seby Zavala hit his 10th home run of the season and drove in a pair of runs in the 7-2 loss. Spencer Adams got the start and allowed four runs but also struck out nine in just 4.2 innings of work.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had two doubles and Evan Skoug had two hits in a 3-2 win. Big leaguer Carlos Rodon made a rehab start and struck out six, allowing one run in five innings.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had a hit and Thyago Vieira threw a scoreless inning in an 8-4 loss.

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

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USA TODAY

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

The White Sox best reliever through the first 42 games of this rebuilding season? Undoubtedly, it’s been Jace Fry.

With Rick Renteria’s bullpen hardly the most reliable relief corps the game has ever seen, Fry has been a revelation, starting his 2018 campaign with 7.1 scoreless innings over six appearances.

And now things are getting a bit more dramatic for the 24-year-old lefty, a guy who’s been through a pair of Tommy John surgeries. He pitched some high-leverage ball in Saturday night’s 5-3 win, sitting down all four hitters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings while protecting a two-run lead.

“I was ready the whole game, just waiting for my name to be called,” Fry said. “But it was awesome getting in there in the eighth inning, even getting the first guy in the ninth inning. After I got him I was kind of hoping he’d let me keep going.”

Renteria uses his bullpen in a non-traditional manner, one that perhaps he thinks is a way of the future or one that’s a result of his lack of dominant options out there. Whichever it is, he doesn’t really have a closer but rather a host of guys he uses in those high-leverage situations, whenever they might come during the late stages of a game. Joakim Soria, Nate Jones and Bruce Rondon have all been used to get big outs late in games, and Rondon threw a scoreless seventh Saturday, with Jones getting the game’s final two outs for the save.

But it could be argued that most difficult outs were recorded by Fry, who put away the visiting Texas Rangers’ fourth, fifth and sixth hitters before getting the seventh hitter to strike out to start off the ninth.

Renteria steered away from dubbing Fry one of his new high-leverage guys after the game, but why wouldn’t Fry be in that mix? All he’s done since joining the big league squad earlier this month is get outs. He’s got 10 strikeouts, hasn’t allowed a hit and has just two walks as the lone blemishes on an otherwise perfect season line.

“It just happens to be that it was the eighth inning and the ninth that he pitched,” Renteria said. “I think he’s looking very comfortable in those. It happens to be the eighth and ninth we needed him. He’s been very, very effective. He’s been commanding the strike zone very well, confidently approaching his hitters. He’s got pretty good stuff.

“He’s able to command the zone. Along with that nice breaking ball he’s got to lefties and righties, it’s pretty effective. But he’s continuing to show you he’s capable of coming in and getting some pretty good hitters.”

Fry has been a rarity this season in that he’s appeared to be a candidate for a long-term spot in the White Sox bullpen. Jones would perhaps be the only other guy coming close to qualifying for that, mostly because of his team-friendly contract that keeps him under control a few more years, but he’s had some rough moments, even with his ERA dropping to 3.50 on Saturday.

Fry, though, is young and is dealing at the moment. He even got a shoutout as a potential long-term piece from general manager Rick Hahn earlier this week.

“Take Jace Fry, someone we haven’t mentioned when we’ve had this conversation the last couple of weeks,” Hahn said Thursday, discussing the positives he’s seen during this developmental season. “He’s shown up here and shown that he’s made some progress in his last stint in the minors and now, at age 24, seems like he’s ready to take that next step, and pencil his name in as part of what we’re building here going forward.”

There’s a lot of season left, and no one’s expecting Fry to keep batters hitless and opposing teams scoreless from now through the end of September. But this is a nice development for the rebuilding White Sox at the moment, a guy who’s giving them at least one name to put into that bullpen of the future.

How long can he keep this thing going? As long as he keeps getting ahead of hitters.

“Having the success is awesome, but I realize it’s the plan, the plan of attack,” Fry said. “I’m going out and throwing Strike 1 and getting ahead. Actually doing it, seeing it and having the process work definitely creates more confidence. Once you go back to the blueprint of baseball, Strike 1 is everything.”