White Sox

Michael Kopech won't be on the White Sox Opening Day roster

Michael Kopech won't be on the White Sox Opening Day roster

Michael Kopech is coming for the big leagues. But he won't be there on Opening Day.

General manager Rick Hahn made it clear to reporters Tuesday in Arizona that the team's No. 1 pitching prospect will begin the season in the minor leagues.

That might be disappointing to White Sox fans who wanted to see the flame-throwing 21-year-old right-hander with gargantuan expectations do enough in spring training to crack that 25-man roster out of camp. For what it's worth, Kopech has made a couple of Cactus League outings so far, pitching 4.1 innings, allowing one unearned run, giving up four hits and a walk and striking out six.

But even if Kopech is already the best pitcher at any level in the White Sox organization, the decision to start his 2018 at Triple-A Charlotte, where he finished up his 2017 season, makes complete sense.

The rebuilding White Sox aren't expected to compete in 2018, and they have their sights on building a perennial championship contender on the South Side, with Kopech a big part of those plans. There's absolutely no reason to rush Kopech to the majors after he pitched only 15 innings at the Triple-A level last season.

Yes, Kopech was sensational in Double-A, posting a 2.87 ERA with 155 strikeouts in his 22 starts. But Hahn has reiterated multiple times this offseason that a good developmental season for Kopech, still really young, could include him not seeing the majors at all.

White Sox fans are hoping that's not what ends up happening. But him starting at Triple-A is a mighty sensible strategy for the White Sox.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars


White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

With the White Sox in the middle of a rebuild, Chuck Garfien spoke with 3 Houston Astros All-Stars who explained how they went from a rebuilding team to World Series champions. Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman talk about how they dealt with losing, how they learned how to win, the importance of adding veterans to the young core, and how they kept hope alive during the rebuild.  Then later, Chuck spoke with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain trying to understand how he dominated the White Sox for so many years.

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage


Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jose Abreu didn’t come to the White Sox to be a leader. But that’s what he is as he took his spot among the best in baseball at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Abreu is the face of the South Side baseball club and he’s had a stellar-enough first four and a half seasons in Major League Baseball to earn the distinction of a starter in the Midsummer Classic. But Abreu, unsurprisingly, doesn’t look at himself as one of the best in the game. He looks as himself as a hard-worker.

“I don’t believe that I’m the best,” Abreu said through a team translator on Monday. “I’m just a person who likes to work hard every day and try to do my best.”

That humility is nothing new to folks who follow the White Sox on a regular basis. And neither is talk of Abreu’s work ethic, the admiration of everyone involved with the team and a constant talking point from Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all Abreu’s teammates.

Abreu has become as important for his off-the-field roles as he has for his on-the-field production for this rebuilding White Sox team. He’s been described as a role model for all the young players in the organization, whether they’re on the big league roster right now or coming up through the system.

“None of them have told me that yet,” Abreu joked. “But I know that. It’s definitely a compliment, and I take it as something that makes you feel good, something that makes you keep moving forward and to keep trying to help the guys to improve and get better as a team. You feel like that is a big honor, that people think that way of you.”

As good as he feels to be held in such esteem, Abreu didn’t set out to be one of this team’s leaders when he came to the United States. And to be honest, he might not be in his current position if it weren’t for the team’s rebuilding effort. Abreu is one of the few veterans on this team.

“That was something that happened. I didn’t look for it,” Abreu said. “I was always trying to help people and trying to give advice to help people to improve. But I never tried to be a leader. If people say that because of what I do, that’s good, but that’s not something that I’m trying to force or something that I say, ‘I want to be a leader.’ No, that’s not who I am. I am just the kind of person who likes to help people, who likes to give advice.”

Abreu is seemingly the definition of what the White Sox want their next winning roster to be full of. And whether it’s the special relationship he has with fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada or the role-model status he holds in the eyes of his other teammates, both current and future, he’s helping the White Sox develop those kinds of players.

Oh, and he’s generally — though this season has seen an extended slump and atypical numbers — one of the most consistently productive hitters in the game.

Who wouldn’t want all that as the face of the franchise?

“It’s all a blessing. I can’t ask for anything else,” Abreu said. “I’m a true believer that if you work hard, good things are going to happen. That’s why I work hard every day, I try to do my best, I try to improve every day and just to be a better person. Not just a better player, but a better person.”