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White Sox want Youkilis, but they're not the only one

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White Sox want Youkilis, but they're not the only one

One baseball source identified the White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies as the two most aggressive teams this offseason in pursuit of a third baseman.

Both are on hot on the trail of Kevin Youkilis, who is without question the class of a thin crop of free agents available at the hot corner.

General manager Rick Hahn made it clear early last month: he wants Youkilis back and has pursued him accordingly.

Meanwhile, other potential suitors -- a group that includes the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland As and Baltimore Orioles -- all seem to have solved their vacancies internally, the source said.

But at what cost are the White Sox willing to bring Youkilis back?

Even though Youkilis had a lions share of magical moments on the South Side after a June 24 trade brought him over from Boston, the White Sox sound as if they are prepared for his possible departure. Hahn has noted that once a player hits free agency it lessens the chance of a return. What if the Los Angeles Dodgers were to get involved and a bidding war ensued?

With the team already near its projected 2013 payroll, Hahn would likely need to move another high salary to be able to afford to sign Youkilis. Though Youkilis is their top target, the White Sox have identified a number of potential options, both internal and external, in case Youkilis moves on.

Theres a lot of speculation about what were going to do at third base, Hahn said. Weve got some options lined up. Weve got a list prioritized and we have had some good conversations along different avenues. But there may well come a point where we decide, ultimately, the options that we have internally are superior to whats out there in the market via free agency or trade. While figuring out what were going to do at third base is a priority, its not necessarily one thats going to mandate an acquisition from outside the organization.

The White Sox have discussed a number of internal options. They seem to have no interest in moving Gordon Beckham to third from second base, or moving Dayan Viciedo back from the outfield, though both ideas were considered.

A middle infielder by trade, prospect Carlos Sanchezs name has come up, but the White Sox would prefer to keep him at second base or shortstop. They also would like to give Sanchez, who began last season in Single-A, more time in the minors.

Then theres Brent Morel, a wild card because the team isnt certain a bad back that bothered him for all of 2012 is healthy. As if that werent enough, assistant GM Buddy Bell said Morel will have to unlearn some of the bad habits he developed at the plate last season in order to play through his back pain.

Externally, one team source said he didnt see many everyday options aside from Youkilis in free agency.

But one potential option who could be high on the teams wish list is free agent Jeff Keppinger. Keppinger --- who earlier this week broke his fibula --- is a career .288 hitter. Last season, Keppinger had a .325.369.439 slash line with nine homers and 40 RBIs in 115 games for the Tampa Bay Rays. The infielder has a good reputation and several sources believe Keppingers injury shouldnt keep him from being ready by spring training.

Power-hitter Mark Reynolds, who has hit 181 homers in six seasons, was added to the potential pool on Friday night when the Baltimore Orioles didnt offer him a contract. But Reynolds has 114 errors in 655 games at third base and the Orioles moved him to first base last season.

The White Sox also think there are several other part-time options available that they could mix and match.

One such option might be left-handed hitting third baseman Eric Chavez, though a source said he has drawn significant interest in free agency. Chavez would be a good fit for the White Sox, who would be in need of another left-handed bat if A.J. Pierzynski departs via free agency.

I think there are some everyday options out there and there are some platoon opportunities out there as well, Hahn said. We might have to be creative if you wind up going down one of the more platoon routes, but sometimes thats not such a great obstacle and the sum is greater than the individual pieces when you piece them together correctly.

As for how Youkilis market will play out, Hahn surmises it still is coming together. Youkilis ability to play first base could lead to further interest in him. Hahn believes the next week will bring further clarity on Youkilis situation.

Theres no certainty as to exactly what the economic market or the package available to Kevin is going to be ultimately, Hahn said. We continue to monitor that and will check until it gets flushed out thoroughly.

White Sox end streak, stay confident: 'We are going to do the pushing around'

White Sox end streak, stay confident: 'We are going to do the pushing around'

The White Sox winning streak is over.

So why was Danny Mendick so chipper after a 1-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night?

His three hits might have had something to do with it. He was just about the only offense the White Sox mustered against Adrian Houser and a pair of relievers.

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But it seemed to stem more from the different feeling surrounding this year's White Sox team.

Mendick got a taste, however small, of the rebuilding years at the tail end of the 2019 season. After Yoán Moncada and Tim Anderson and Lucas Giolito and Eloy Jiménez broke out the way they did during that campaign, Rick Hahn's front office complemented them with a host of impact veteran additions during the offseason. Throw it all together, and these White Sox have the look of a potential contender, something backed up by the way they played during their six-game win streak.

That's over now, though Wednesday's game had the same kind of playoff feel that the first two games against the Brewers did on Monday and Tuesday nights. The White Sox might not have played any games that felt like these in the last three years. Now there have been three in three nights.

So yeah, something's changed.

"I’ll tell you what, just the energy in the clubhouse," Mendick said Wednesday, asked about the difference between 2019 and 2020. "When we show up to the field, there’s more confidence.

"It’s not like we are going to get pushed around. It’s more like we are going to do the pushing around.

"Everyone is just prepared. Everyone shows up to the field ready. They know the opponent. We know what they are going to bring. I feel there’s just more, how do I say this, more education. We have more veterans. We have guys who are really focused on baseball, and it brings a lot to everybody."

RELATED: White Sox manager Rick Renteria finally has talent — and knows what to do with it

The six-game win streak turned the White Sox slow 1-4 start around in a hurry. In this shortened, 60-game season, every game means so much and even modest winning or losing streaks could tug the entire season in one direction or the other. The White Sox went from getting their brains beat in by the class of the AL Central to the third best record in the American League as of Wednesday morning.

They've showed what they're capable of, too. They blew out the Kansas City Royals, scoring a combined 20 runs and knocking out a total of 35 hits in back-to-back wins last weekend. Then they went to Milwaukee and won a pair of nail-biters, getting clutch hits from José Abreu and Jiménez to back strong efforts by the bullpen Monday and Giolito on Tuesday.

Wednesday, it was one of those newly arrived veterans, Dallas Keuchel, who shone. He logged seven one-run innings, the first White Sox starter to pitch in the seventh inning this season. If it weren't for the unusually cool conditions on the South Side, the outcome might have been different. Luis Robert and Moncada dialed up back-to-back deep fly balls in the eighth inning that both could have easily gone as go-ahead homers on a normal summer night.

The clutch hits could have kept on coming. And the knowledge of being competitive — the "belief," as Giolito keeps putting it — prevented the White Sox from feeling down after another fine effort Wednesday. It will likely do so every night for the remainder of this short season.

"The thing that probably has impressed me the most is the resiliency of the club," Hahn said Wednesday. "Obviously, those of us who have watched this team over the last several years, and certainly in the early phase of the rebuild, knew that feeling that you would get early or midway through games where you would feel the lead was perhaps insurmountable. I think looking at this club through the first 10 or 11 games so far, it feels like we're not out of any ballgame, regardless of what the deficit may be.

"I think that's a great testament to not just the veterans that have been brought in, but the growth of the young guys and the mentality I'm sure you've all picked up on going back to (spring training in) Glendale."

Part of the reason additions like Keuchel, Yasmani Grandal and Edwin Encarnación looked so good during the winter was the playoff experience these guys have. While the White Sox core doesn't know what it's like to win at the big league level — not even Abreu does, who played for six losing White Sox teams before signing a new multi-year deal in the offseason — these guys do. They're all veterans of pennant races and playoff runs that go all the way to the end of October. Keuchel's got a World Series ring on his resume.

Experience with the highs and lows of a winning season might not be quite as valuable in this most unusual of seasons. But before the White Sox can be championship contenders, they actually need to do some winning. After a combined 284 losses in the last three seasons, even a six-game winning streak can mean a lot.

But whether they won or lost Wednesday, it didn't seem like the result was going to sway their belief. These White Sox are here to compete and live up to the high expectations they set for themselves dating all the way back to the end of an 89-loss season in 2019.

"We've been hot, and eventually it's going to come to an end. But man, we were right in the ballgame. That's all we can ask for," Keuchel said. "Game in, game out, we know that we're going to be in those contests.

"If we can win series, that's a playoff recipe."


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Dane Dunning won't fill Carlos Rodón's spot in White Sox rotation vs. Indians

Dane Dunning won't fill Carlos Rodón's spot in White Sox rotation vs. Indians

We're running out of guys who could potentially start in Carlos Rodón's place Saturday against the Cleveland Indians.

A day after White Sox manager Rick Renteria said it likely wouldn't be red-hot reliever Ross Detwiler who slides into the rotation as a fill-in for Rodón, who's currently on the injured list with shoulder inflammation, general manager Rick Hahn said the task won't fall to Dane Dunning, either.

Dunning, the highly touted pitching prospect acquired in the same 2016 trade that brought Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López to the White Sox, has shown some great promise during his minor league career, and that includes during "Summer Camp" last month at Guaranteed Rate Field. But still coming back from the Tommy John surgery he had last year, the White Sox aren't ready to put him on the big league starting staff quite yet.

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"I can say right now, Dane Dunning's not going to be the guy we go to on Saturday when Carlos' first vacated spot comes up," Hahn said Wednesday. "He's continuing to build up his endurance and essentially is a guy who is coming back as a starter post-TJ without the ability to go on rehab assignments.

"We have a very strict program he's following, and it doesn't quite include making his major league debut come this Saturday. But at some point we're going to let him in."

Certain White Sox fans have been calling on the team to include Dunning as part of the major league starting-pitching mix since before the season started, and injuries that sent not only Rodón but also López to the injured list have only produced more of those calls. And it's not like the White Sox haven't been close to doing it in the past. Hahn said before the start of the 2019 season that if it hadn't been for Dunning's arm injury, he might have been part of the rotation as early as last year's Opening Day.

But unlike Rodón, who made the Opening Day rotation after his own recovery from Tommy John surgery, Dunning is not yet far enough along in his recovery to be deemed ready for big league action as a starter. And with the news Hahn provided on the status of both Rodón and López on Wednesday relatively good — Hahn said both injured pitchers could be back with the team in just a few weeks — there might not be that many starts to make in their place.

And so the White Sox might not go the traditional route in plugging the hole in the rotation behind Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Cease and Gio González.

"It's not going to be, knock on wood, long-term issues for either of them," Hahn said. "You've heard me say time and again about the timing of promotions of prospects. We want to make it about the individual player, not about the need in Chicago or a hole somewhere on the roster in Chicago. Certainly when it comes to Dane, he's no exception. It would be conceivably easy for us to say, 'All right, we're going to bring him Saturday because there's a need. We'll just keep (him) at three (innings) and 45 (pitches) or something like that in terms of that outing.' But we don't feel like that's in his best interest long term.

"If we need to go and get creative or deal with some spot-start-like situations a couple of times through, we'll make the most of it.

"Let's get through today. We know who's available today, we have a general idea of what we want to do tomorrow. Once we get to Saturday, we'll probably start piecing that thing together once we get through tomorrow night's game and head into Friday to figure out what's our best alternative."

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What that could lead to is simply a bullpen day or the use of an opener. The White Sox bullpen was among the most frequently called upon relief corps in baseball coming into Wednesday night's game, but it's been darn good, too. Detwiler might not be jumping into the rotation, but there's nothing to say he couldn't throw a couple innings at the start of Saturday's game. Major league rosters shrink from 30 players to 28 on Thursday, but that means the White Sox will still have some extra room to work with. A bigger bullpen could mean a parade of relievers against the Indians on Saturday.

And if that works, maybe every fifth day just becomes the bullpen's day to soak up a few more innings until Rodón or López come back.

Hahn said it was unlikely the White Sox were to look outside the organization for rotation help at the moment. If you think it's difficult to try to figure out whether to give up long-term pieces for short-term help in a normal season, imagine how hard it is when the trade deadline comes a month after Opening Day and there are no minor league games going on. But the team did just add a free agent on a minor league deal, bringing the 36-year-old Clayton Richard back to the organization that drafted him.

There's no doubt that the pitching depth that seemed like such a plus for the White Sox before the season started has been used up in a hurry. Forty percent of the starting rotation is on the injured list, as is Jimmy Lambert, and Michael Kopech elected not to play due to personal reasons. Things have changed rapidly.

Given how day to day just about everything involving the 2020 season is at the moment, don't expect the White Sox to settle on a plan for Saturday for a bit still.


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