White Sox

White Sox: Brett Lawrie wants to get reacquainted with second base

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White Sox: Brett Lawrie wants to get reacquainted with second base

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Give him a task, and Brett Lawrie will tackle it with the enthusiasm of a linebacker hopped up on Five Hour Energy in pursuit of a quarterback.

Lawrie’s mission this spring is to reacquaint himself with second base, a position he played almost exclusively until he reached the majors in 2012.

Whether it’s the White Sox, scouts, or the player himself, few have doubts Lawrie can make the transition from third base back to second. Lawrie believes it’s merely a matter of quality repetitions and he has already set his mind on the task.

“Do it every day,” Lawrie said. “If I do it everyday, then it just becomes what I do. That’s kind of how I work.

“(Third base) was just a new task for me, a new task that ultimately said that I’ve got to go out and get good at this and that’s all I was worried about. I got to do it every single day. Now, the goal is to go out and play second base. I’m only worried about second base. I don’t have to worry about anything else.”

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Sounds like the White Sox don’t have much to worry about, either. Not only do they believe Lawrie, who’s known for his high energy, can make a seamless transition, outsiders do, too. Though they haven’t yet seen much of him in the field, two major league scouts said Lawrie has more than enough ability to pull it off.

Lawrie primarily played second base in the minors until the Milwaukee Brewers traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011. He played 250 games at second and 82 at third before he reached the majors.

Since then, Lawrie has appeared at second base 80 times (mostly last season with the Oakland A’s) and at third on 441 occasions.

Knowing they also were close to adding Todd Frazier when they acquired Lawrie in December, the White Sox suggested they may want him to play second base. General manager Rick Hahn said Lawrie has been open to the concept since their first conversation.

“Brett aggressively attacks any task head on and playing second base regularly has been no exception,” Hahn said. “From the time of our first conversation after the trade was completed, Brett has embraced the possibility of playing second. Given his athleticism and work ethic, we expect him to settle into the role nicely.”

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Lawrie has already made a few nice plays early in limited spring action, including a nicely turned double play with Tyler Saladino in the opening game — “the ball will find you,” Lawrie said.

Saladino has been impressed by how Lawrie has operated to familiarize himself once again with his old position, not only the all-out effort, but the technique, too.

“He’s a guy that you know what to expect,” Saladino said. “He’s going to work and he takes everything serious. When he’s out there working, he’s a fundamental guy. He likes to stay low (to the ground) and that’s important in the infield. He takes all that stuff with the passion to do it all right. When it comes to that ground ball and defensive work, he does it right. Then it becomes a matter of instinct.”

Lawrie is all about quality work. He’s a firm believer that if he does something the right way 15 times, it’s better than taking 50 ground balls without the proper form.

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There’s no doubt in his mind that Lawrie can make this switch again. And he knows exactly how he needs to make it happen.

“Every day, it’s all about the reps,” Lawrie said. “Just going out there, and the quality over the quantity. I’m not going to take 100 ground balls. It’s not about that. It’s about taking the right procedures, the right foot work and doing things right and quality over the quantity.

“It’s definitely about the quality over the quantity and refining that.”

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.”