White Sox

White Sox won't give up on homers

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White Sox won't give up on homers

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Rick Hahn has no plans to ditch the long ball.

However the teams newly promoted general manager attempts to make his own mark on the White Sox roster, hes certain his team will always need home run hitters as long as they call U.S. Cellular Field home.

As he addressed the media on the first day of the GM meetings on Wednesday, Hahn said he hopes to diversify the teams offense -- to an extent -- so it no longer lives and dies with homers. But no matter how much he tinkers, he refuses to stray too far from what works on the South Side.

Last season, U.S. Cellular Field yielded 229 home runs in 81 games, second in the majors behind only Yankee Stadium.

Playing in our ballpark and playing in our league, were always going to have to hit home runs to stay in games and win games, Hahn said. So were not going to run away from the home run. Having a more diversified offense, one that involves a little more speed, a little more contact, would help complement the power element and perhaps allow us to ride through some slumps there because of the weather or whatever reason the ball is not leaving the ballpark on a consistent enough basis.

The teams starting pitching depth should afford Hahn the ability to explore ways in which he can improve an offense that struggled mightily down the stretch.

The White Sox hit 211 homers last season, the eighth highest total in franchise history. But a team that finished with five hitters with 25 or more home runs blasted only nine and scored 31 runs in a 2-10 stretch in September that undid a potential postseason run.

With six starting pitchers under team control, Hahn could trade from a strength to help a team that finished with a .318 on-base percentage, which ranked seventh in the American League.

Perhaps the White Sox biggest chip on the trade market is starting pitcher Gavin Floyd, who is under contract for 2013 for 9.25 million.

With few top of the line pitchers available in free agency, pitching help is expected to be available only at premium prices this offseason.

Not only is Floyd affordable, hes also durable having made at least 29 starts in five straight seasons.

On Wednesday, Hahn confirmed he has had plenty of discussions with other teams regarding potential trades, though he didnt address names. But Hahn last week said he believed the White Sox would be popular in trade talks because of their pitching depth.

Hahn said on Wednesday he isnt certain he wants to mess with his rotation.

But two National League executives said they think Floyd is one of the top available options in trade behind Tampa Bays James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson and one noted he believes the White Sox could yield an everyday starting position player out of a deal.

Even before we got here we had some conversations, Hahn said. A lot of this is about foundations for future deals. I wouldnt necessarily expect anything in the coming days. Well see where it goes.

Though Hahn might acquiesce to some of manager Robin Venturas wishes --- he might bring in more speed or a line drive hitter to shake up a lineup loaded with power --- he wont give up on the long ball.

He cant.

Were not going to skew the home run hitter, Hahn said. We need that. Thats still going to be mothers milk in our ballpark. But to be able to diversify the offensive attack would be a nice complement. To find complements certainly will make us a better offense overall.

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

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USA TODAY

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

With about a week until the end of his 80-game suspension, Welington Castillo his making his way back to the White Sox.

The veteran catcher joined Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment Friday, in the Knights' lineup for their afternoon game.

Castillo has been serving his suspension since May 24, when Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for his testing positive for a banned substance. He's eligible to return Aug. 23, just nine days before rosters expand.

The White Sox added Castillo over the offseason after he had career years offensively and defensively with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2017 season. The hope was he could provide a veteran presence and help out with the development of the team's young pitching staff — and of course that his bat could help bolster the team's everyday lineup. A two-year contract with an option for a third meant that if all went well, Castillo could be around for the start of the team's transition from rebuilding to contending, a sort of bridge to top catching prospect Zack Collins.

Things obviously did not work out as planned, and Castillo has missed months of time working with the pitchers while he's served his suspension.

Still, his return will perhaps be a welcome help to young pitchers still learning how to succeed against major league lineups, guys like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have had inconsistent first full campaigns in the big leagues — not to mention any young pitchers who might be called up from the minor leagues over the season's final month and a half.

As for the team's catching situation, Omar Narvaez has done very well at the plate since taking over as the starting catcher when Castillo was suspended. Since the beginning of June, Narvaez is slashing .356/.433/.559, and his season batting average of .282 is one of the highest on the team. Kevan Smith, the No. 2 catcher, is hitting .283 on the season. Castillo will return with a .267/.309/.466 slash line in 33 games he played in before being suspended.

Despite midseason slump, Jose Abreu is moving toward a fifth straight season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs

Despite midseason slump, Jose Abreu is moving toward a fifth straight season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs

When Jose Abreu went to the All-Star Game — voted in as the starting first baseman for the American League squad — he was of course deserving as an incredibly consistent performer through his first four seasons in the big leagues and his role as the face of the White Sox.

But the numbers weren't looking so good in mid July. An extended slump had Abreu looking very un-Abreu-like, perhaps heading toward his worst statistical season since arriving in the majors from Cuba ahead of his 2014 Rookie of the Year campaign.

At the close of the first half, he was slashing .253/.311/.441 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs, a far cry from the .301/.359/.524 slash line he put up through his first four seasons, when he also joined Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio as the only players ever to start their careers with a quartet of 25-homer, 100-RBI campaigns.

But Abreu, who's been a very good second-half hitter during his career, is on a hot streak that's powering his way back to his version of normal. And it's looking like he could again reach the numbers we're so used to seeing from him by season's end.

After a one-homer, three-hit, three-RBI day in Wednesday afternoon's win over the Detroit Tigers, Abreu is up to .268/.327/.484 on the campaign with 21 homers and 73 RBIs. That puts him nine homers and 27 RBIs away from the mark he's hit in each of his first four seasons with 42 games left in the season. It's not at all unreasonable to suggest he'll be able to do that, as he's hit eight homers and driven in 21 runs in his last 22 games.

He'd have to be some kind of dialed-in for the remainder of 2018 to bump the averages back to where they've been in recent seasons. But here's the kind of hot streak he's on now: Since the start of the second half, Abreu is slashing .323/.385/.646. And that's not too crazy when you realize how good he's been in the second half in his career. Coming into Wednesday's game, his career second-half stat line looked like this: a .314/.381/.540 slash line with 61 homers and 199 RBIs in 303 games.

For the White Sox, the confidence was always there that Abreu was going to snap out of the extended slump that saw him slash .180/.230/.308 from May 27 to the end of the first half, and he's done exactly that. Now, he's hot enough that he's inspiring confidence he could return to some of his regular numbers by season's end. It's that kind of consistency, coupled with his off-the-field value, that makes the team think so highly of him and could keep him around long enough for the rebuilding process to yield a perennial contender on the South Side.