White Sox

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'prepared' to make big move now

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'prepared' to make big move now

He’d have preferred a better performance on their last road trip, but Rick Hahn is pleased with where the White Sox are from a macro standpoint.

The White Sox general manager said the front office hopes to upgrade a club that spent its 36th day in first place on Tuesday after only holding that position 11 times from 2013-15.

The White Sox entered a three-game series against the Houston Astros with a 24-14 record and a 4 1/2-game lead in the American League Central. While he acknowledged the club may not be able to make a move until June or July, Hahn said he’s ready to strike now if the chance to improve the club arises.

“We are prepared to make a big move today if it presents itself,” Hahn said. “Unfortunately, our timing might not line up with the other 29 clubs just yet. It’s still early in the process. A lot of clubs don’t look to make those moves until June or July. But we are having dialogue right now hoping something comes together more quickly than that.”

Hahn didn’t address any rumors surrounding the team’s pursuit of free-agent pitcher Tim Lincecum, who reportedly is close to signing a deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

But he sounds open to improving a club that entered Tuesday on pace to go 102-60 in any way, shape or form. That could mean adding an arm to a bullpen that has struggled of late -- the White Sox have a 4.98 ERA in relief in May after posting a 1.69 in April -- “It’s definitely a path we may well venture down,” he said.

Having already added Miguel Gonzalez last month, Hahn potentially could add to a rotation in need of consistency beyond Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. The White Sox would like to see more from Gonzalez, who has a 5.17 ERA and 10 walks issued in 15 2/3 innings. But both Hahn and manager Robin Ventura have acknowledged a high degree of difficulty in each of the right-hander’s three starts, given they come on the road against the Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers and New York Yankees. Gonzalez’s next turn comes Saturday against the Kansas City Royals.

“Like the mix of pitches, like the movement on his pitches, need to harness the command a little bit better to let him go deeper into games,” Hahn said. “But we’re looking for him to give us a chance to win and he has done that three out of three times so far.”

There’s also the possibility the White Sox could add a left-handed bat to a lineup loaded with right-handers.

No matter which direction they choose, Hahn is intent upon trying to win now. The team’s lead is the third-biggest in franchise history after 38 games behind only the 1957 and 2005 teams, both of which held leads of five games at this juncture. Hahn intends to take advantage of the team’s good start.

“When the chance to win comes along, you need to do everything in your power to maximize that opportunity and feed what the guys in this clubhouse, the coaches and players alike, have been able to build thus far in this season,” Hahn said. “We want to do what we can from a front office standpoint to continue that momentum, to reinforce where they have put themselves and again maximize our chances to win in October.”

Avisail Garcia, slated for offseason knee surgery, has been playing hurt since Opening Day

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia, slated for offseason knee surgery, has been playing hurt since Opening Day

While some players' seasons have been open for interpretation, it's been an undeniably disappointing one for Avisail Garcia.

Turns out there's a good reason for the big change in his production from 2017 to 2018.

Garcia's battles with injuries this year have been no secret, but the White Sox outfielder revealed Tuesday that it's literally been going on all season long. He said that he felt something in his knee on Opening Day and that he's played hurt throughout the entire season. He also reported that he'll have arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 2, two days after the end of the season.

"Opening Day, I feel something in my knee," he said. "I had been feeling something, something, something and then I started feeling my hammy because I think I was favoring it. Especially because it’s my right knee, and that’s where all my power is. It’s crazy, but it is what it is.

"It’s sore. Every time I go home, it’s a little swollen. But I’m going to fix it soon. It’s been a crazy year, not for me, but for the whole team. Thank god we are alive and we are here. We have a chance. Let’s see what happens next year."

Garcia did make two trips to the disabled list this season, both due to an injured hamstring, which he said stemmed from the hurting knee. He played in 88 of the team's first 154 games, with six remaining on the schedule heading into Tuesday night's contest with the visiting Cleveland Indians.

Entering 2018, Garcia had the tall task of repeating his breakout campaign from a season before, when he made his first career All-Star appearance and posted some of the best offensive numbers in the American League with a .330 batting average and a .380 on-base percentage. During this injury-filled season, those numbers plummeted to .238 and .278.

"It’s been difficult. Difficult year," he said. "Nothing that I can do. I’ve been playing like this the whole season. Just gotta play and get after it, so it is what it is. I can’t control that. I can control what I do on the field.

"(The knee injury has) always been there. Everybody knows it’s hard when you get injury and then sit down and then go play and then sit down again. It’s hard to be consistent like that. This game is difficult so you have to be out there every day so you get to used to it and it’s hard to play like this. But it is what it is. It’s not an excuse. Everybody knows that. I’ve been playing like this so I’m trying to do my best."

Obviously, it's tough to judge Garcia's follow up to his All-Star season knowing how much his knee bothered him. But it still leaves unanswered the question of what his place is in the organization's long-term plans. He's under team control for one more season. The White Sox have the flexibility to do one of many things this offseason: keep him for one more season, try to trade him this offseason, hold on to him and try to trade him to a contending club next summer or extend him and keep him in the mix for when rebuilding mode transitions to contention mode. Garcia is just 27 years old.

Garcia said he'll be "100-percent" ready for spring training next year, and should his health be back to normal, his prove-it campaign that was supposed to come in 2018 could come in 2019. But there's also a wave of outfield prospects making its way toward the South Side that includes Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Micker Adolfo and plenty of others. So no matter what statistics Garcia might be shooting for, the pressure will be on to show he's a safer bet than all that young talent.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Daniel Palka on Palkamania and his breakout season

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Daniel Palka on Palkamania and his breakout season

Chuck Garfien speaks with White Sox outfielder Daniel Palka who as a 26-year-old rookie has come out of nowhere to become one of the White Sox most popular players in 2018.  They talk about the time Palka gave a pitcher a black eye in Little League, how he used to be a relief pitcher at Georgia Tech,  why the Twins gave him up on him, the time when Chuck called Palka’s walkoff homer this year, his friendship with Kyle Schwarber and more.   

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: