Chicago White Sox: Rick Hahn

Ventura fine with Guillen comment

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
9:13
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO – Ozzie Guillen would love to have his old job back one day.

Guillen doesn’t want to be disrespectful to Robin Ventura, who currently has the Chicago White Sox manager's job.

If that sounds a little contradictory, Ventura understood it just fine.

Guillen’s feelings about his old job were made known in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times during All-Star Game festivities earlier this week.

“I wish,” Guillen, currently an analyst for ESPN, said about returning to the South Side -- where he guided the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005 -- if the spot were available. “But if I say yes, then I don’t respect Robin Ventura. But that’s not where I’m coming from. When Robin gets tired of managing or he’s had enough, I would like to be back. But it’s up to them. If I wear a uniform and it’s the White Sox, that will be special.”

Ventura and Guillen are former teammates and friends and exchanged hellos when Guillen came to a mid-June home game against the San Francisco Giants. It was Guillen’s first time in the ballpark since he was let out of his White Sox contract late in the 2011 season to pursue the Marlins’ managerial job.

“Somebody just told me about [Guillen’s comments]; that’s him,” said Ventura, who spent time at his California lake house during the All-Star break. “I think everybody knew that his feelings would be like that before, so it’s not surprising.”

Does it bother Ventura that Guillen might be eyeing his chair even before he departs it?

“If I’m not doing it anymore, I don’t care who’s doing it, so it would be fine if it was him,” Ventura said.

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf recently attended the wedding of Guillen’s oldest son, Ozzie Jr., so there don't seem to be any hard feelings on that end.

“Eventually that stuff all heals and you will get back to seeing him around,” Ventura said. “Eventually that always happens.”

General manager Rick Hahn had no intention of touching the subject.

“I was actually out of town with my family for the All-Star Game so I didn't see the comments specifically,” Hahn said. “So I'm not really concerned about what maybe happens after that. I will say my focus is on winning multiple championships with Robin Ventura.”

Big-spending Sox pleased with draft haul

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
7:29
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- While the Chicago White Sox were sending first-round pick Carlos Rodon off to the Arizona Rookie League on Friday, their on-field opponent, the Houston Astros, played out an entirely different scenario.

The Astros' first-round pick and No. 1 overall selection, San Diego high school pitcher Brady Aiken, went unsigned at Friday’s deadline, leaving the club empty-handed.

The $6.582 million the White Sox paid Rodon not only got a top pitcher in the organization, it saved them the same heartache as the Astros.

[+] EnlargeRodon
AP Photo/Mark CrammerSigning 30 of their first 31 draft picks, including No. 3 overall selection Carlos Rodon, left the White Sox in a good mood.
“It was nice,” general manager Rick Hahn said about getting the Rodon deal done last week. “You know, he’s a kid obviously we targeted for essentially a year now once it became fairly apparent that last season wasn’t going to go the way we wanted and that we actually were going to be in the mix for the top pick. Carlos was the guy who stood out early on in conversations with [director of amateur scouting] Doug Laumann and his staff.”

Rodon will head to Arizona for a few outings before reporting to Single-A Winston-Salem sometime during the week of July 28, Hahn said. The White Sox plan to use the left-hander only as a reliever for the rest of this season to better control his innings.

“Knock on wood, our doctors were thrilled with the condition he was in,” Hahn said. “The early reports from the first few sidelines he has done over the past week were very positive. I’m not quite sure what his regimen was over the [past] two months, but he was good to go.

“He hasn’t thrown a pitch in anger since May 16, so we are not going to rush this thing. It will take a little while to build back that arm strength. Once he gets going, we’ll respond based on how he feels and how he’s performing.”

The White Sox ended up signing 30 of their first 31 selections from this year and said they were pleased with their haul. They took a pitcher with four of their first five picks.

The only selection that did not sign was 14th-round pick Bryce Montes de Oca, a hard-throwing right-hander. Hahn acknowledged that signing de Oca as a No. 14 pick was a long shot.

Reports indicate that the White Sox were the second-biggest spender in this year’s draft, behind only the Miami Marlins, and spent beyond their bonus pool of money, meaning that they're subject to an overage tax. Hahn didn’t sound the least bit bothered about it.

“We are really pleased,” Hahn said. “We know going on this was going to be an important draft. We wound up making over an eight-figure investment in amateur talent domestically alone. That was certainly one of the silver linings of a disappointing year like last year.

“We were pleasantly surprised with each of the guys we took in the first three rounds were still available. We are real pleased. The proof comes over the coming years how these guys develop and fulfill their potential. But certainly, draft day we were excited, and now that everyone is in the fold and out starting their pro career, we remain very optimistic about the future.”

Buyers or sellers? Hahn toes the line

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
7:07
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The second half of the baseball season might have started Friday for the Chicago White Sox, but much focus was on the nonwaiver trade deadline less than two weeks away.

The White Sox entered play Friday with a 45-51 record and are in the midst of a roster rebuild, so it seems fairly obvious they will at least explore deals that would return some more young talent.

But when asked if the White Sox are buyers or sellers, general manager Rick Hahn took pause.

"It's certainly a very fair question but also not one that I'm going to answer, which I think you can understand," Hahn said. "Look, we are not where we need to be; we know that. We are realistic about where we are today. We are realistic about where we are likely to be over the next 10 weeks or so.

"I think if there are opportunities to continue the process we started over a year ago, in terms of putting long-term pieces in place that we feel will allow us to compete on an annual basis, we will follow down those paths."

Gordon Beckham or Dayan Viciedo could be used as trade bait in the coming days, but either of them alone might not get back the kind of young, core player the White Sox are seeking.

(Read full post)

Extra Bases: Faith has worked for Sox

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
8:00
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Sometimes a little faith goes a long way.

The Chicago White Sox rescued Hector Noesi off the waiver-wire scrap heap, moved him from reliever into a rotation spot and presto, and now have an effective starting pitcher on their hands.

The opportunity isn’t lost on Noesi, who already has been traded by the Seattle Mariners and designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers this season. The right-hander feels like every start is an opportunity to show his appreciation.

SportsNation

The White Sox arent even a .500 team right now at 32-33, but have managed a 12-8 record in one-run games. What has been the biggest key to their advantage in those games?

  •  
    10%
  •  
    13%
  •  
    74%
  •  
    3%

Discuss (Total votes: 323)

“Sometimes it's about trust, you know,” Noesi said after winning his second consecutive decision Monday to improve to 2-4. “Like, I come here and this team gives me the opportunity really fast. So I try to appreciate everything and do my work. Sometime it's about, they believe in me that I have something good, so I try to show them that I can do this.”

When last seen in a different uniform, Noesi was giving up seven runs in an inning of relief for the Rangers. And that outing was against the White Sox no less.

But instead of seeing what Noesi couldn’t do, the White Sox saw potential. Noesi has been designated, the White Sox claimed him and pitching coach Don Cooper has worked with him on some delivery tweaks. Noesi was given a chance to slowly stretch himself out to 100 pitches, and a new starter was born.

This move wasn’t out of nowhere, though. General manager Rick Hahn said he envisioned Noesi as a starter when the pitcher was claimed, but nobody thought it was going to happen this fast.

“He’s giving us a chance to win,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He has been great. The changeup for him has really been a factor that has got him to this point. He’s getting a better feel for it because the more he pitches he’s able to throw it more often in different counts, hitters counts, and get through it.”

Read all about it: Here is the Rapid Reaction from the White Sox’s 6-5 victory over the Tigers in the opener of a four-game series.

Keep an eye on this: John Danks is rolling now with a 1.21 ERA over his past three starts, an impressive run that started when he moved toward the third-base side of the pitching rubber. He pitches Tuesday against the Tigers.

Question of the day: How much weight does the current series against the first-place Detroit Tigers carry moving forward?

White Sox win a confidence-booster

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
12:13
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Abreu3AP Photo/Jeff HaynesJose Abreu's fifth-inning homer came after a 1-for-17 stretch and put the Sox up 5-2.

CHICAGO – Before the current four-game series against the Detroit Tigers even started, Chicago White Sox players were careful not to put too much weight on the matchup against the American League Central leaders.

Shortly after the White Sox put together a 6-5 victory Monday over the Tigers -- one that was in serious jeopardy before Ronald Belisario closed out the save -- the same concept was being stressed.

“I honestly didn’t even know who was in first place until you guys asked me today,” Conor Gillaspie said after delivering a pair of RBI singles. “The more you can compete on a nightly basis, no matter who you’re playing and who’s pitching, and block those things out, the more success you’re going to have.”

The White Sox know there is a long haul ahead. There are 97 games remaining, to be exact, and simply finding some consistency would be a better thing to focus on than planning a run for the division title in September.

So Monday's measured tone was a reasonable approach.

“I think a lot of emphasis gets put on it, but it really is just another series, especially coming at this juncture of the season,” Adam Dunn said. “Obviously you want to go out and play well if for no other reason than how we played over the last three games.”

Those previous three games, in Southern California against the Los Angeles Angels, ended in three consecutive defeats, with none making an impact more than Saturday's, when Chris Sale couldn’t hold a 5-0 lead in the eighth inning.

The rebuilt White Sox roster still has that new-car smell, and more changes are expected until general manager Rick Hahn and the rest of the front office feel they have the recipe just how they want it. Looking at it that way, there are still more steps needed for this Chicago club to become a true contender -- and establishing some confidence is one of them.

“Any time you’re chasing a team, no matter where it is [in the standings], when you’re chasing a team and they’re the team to beat, for us that’s part of it,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You sense the excitement of playing them. But if we lost, it wouldn’t have mattered in August and September. You want to win those games, but right now everybody’s happy you won that game and you’re already starting to focus on tomorrow night at 7 o’clock.”

There were plenty of positive takeaways from Monday’s victory, such as another win from Hector Noesi as a starter. There was Jose Abreu extracting himself from a 1-for-17 slide to hit a home run, his 18th, in the fifth inning. In fact, the entire top of the order contributed, as each of the first four batters in the lineup delivered at least two hits and combined for nine of the team's 11 hits.

“We talked about it at the beginning of the season, kind of stirring the drink, getting things going, kind of being the straw,” said Adam Eaton, whose first-inning leadoff triple was one of his two hits. “When we can do that, Beck [Gordon Beckham] and I at the top of the order, hopefully that translates to the rest of the order.

“I do think that hitting is contagious. Having competitive at-bats is contagious. [Tyler Flowers] had a great at-bat late and had a walk, and I think that kind of sets the tone. I think it gives guys confidence throughout the lineup and hopefully we continue to do that.”

Next up is Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander on Tuesday night, and while White Sox players can say it’s too early to put too much emphasis on a potential victory like that, it could go a long way toward building more of the confidence they need. Just the potential for a confidence-boosting victory shows how different this year’s White Sox team is from last year’s 99-loss squad.

“This is a good opportunity if we go out and play well, things go our way, and we can show we can play with these guys, because it is their division to lose,” captain Paul Konerko said. “It would give our guys confidence if we won the series. If we don’t, that’s fine too, [we'll] just keep trucking along and we’ll get better as we go.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys and as a team, as players, guys should get better as they play this year because they’re going to get more at-bats and get more comfortable as they go. I think we should just have that attitude and just take the pressure off and say, ‘Let’s go out and play hard and it can only be good.’ We certainly want to win. Losing is not fun.”

Hahn optimistic about Rodon talks

June, 9, 2014
Jun 9
7:14
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn already had his poker face on display Monday, saying he doesn’t expect there to be any issues in negotiating a contract with first-round draft pick Carlos Rodon.

Negotiating a Rodon deal has been a hot topic because the left-handed pitcher out of North Carolina State is being represented by agent Scott Boras.

When executive vice president Kenny Williams was in the general manager’s chair, the White Sox didn’t have too many dealings with Boras, known for a shrewd style of business that yields top-dollar contracts for his clients.

So does Hahn see any potential stumbling blocks ahead in dealing with Boras?

“I tend to be an optimistic guy,” Hahn said Monday. “I never anticipate problems. Look, in reality, we have a history with Scott, a positive history with Scott. He had Joe Crede, he’s got [Dayan] Viciedo, we had Andruw Jones here. A fair amount of this concern, or discussion on how this could be difficult, I think is unnecessary and really not significant to us determining what’s going to happen here.”

With a deadline for signing picks set at July 18, the White Sox will get some answers soon. The assigned value of the third overall selection in the draft is $5.72 million, but indications are that Boras could negotiate for more than that. A main Boras negotiating point could be that Rodon is expected to reach the major leagues sooner than most, if not all, players selected last week.

Assuming a deal gets worked out, the question of interest then becomes how soon Rodon can reach the major leagues and help the big league team.

In 2010, Chris Sale was in the major leagues two months after he was selected with the White Sox’s first-round pick (13th overall). So now that Chicago has another college left-hander with a plus slider in Rodon, what kind of timetable can be expected?

“I understand the comparisons, but until we get the player on campus and in our system and understand truly where he’s at and how he’s feeling, how quickly he is to take to the professional lifestyle, I don’t think it’s fair to put any time frame on his arrival,” Hahn said.

There isn’t any shame in not exactly being considered at the same level as Sale. If Rodon eventually slides into the rotation as a stead No. 2 or No. 3 starter, the White Sox will consider this draft a rousing success.

“You don’t see that too often, a player [like Sale] making his major league debut the same year he was drafted, much less having an impact and going on with his career without ever returning to the minors,” Hahn said. “That’s pretty atypical, but if there was one player in this draft that potentially had the ability to do that, it would probably be Carlos Rodon.”

How much weight does Tigers series carry?

June, 9, 2014
Jun 9
10:41
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Here come the Detroit Tigers for four games on the South Side starting Monday night, bringing with them a series that is difficult to pigeonhole into a standard formula.

Is it a series that could help define the American League Central Division moving forward?

Is it a measuring stick for the Chicago White Sox to see if they are a legitimate contender in a season when they weren't expected to compete for the playoffs?

[+] EnlargeJose Abreu
Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsJose Abreu enters the series against the Tigers with one hit in his last 13 at-bats.
Is it one that could reshape the roster restructuring plan for the White Sox's front office?

Quite honestly it is hard to say on all fronts, and not just because it is the second week of June with 3 1/2 months of baseball still to be played before the postseason begins.

Sure a sweep by either club would make a grand statement. A Tigers sweep would turn a 4 1/2-game lead in the division over the White Sox into an 8 1/2-game chasm that would leave general manager Rick Hahn and Co. on their same roster-reshuffle course.

A sweep by the White Sox would narrow the gap to a half game between them and the Tigers, although there is a chance that teams such as the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals would also remain ahead of them in the standings under such a scenario.

The idea of a sweep on either side is far from realistic, though.

Four competitive games against the Tigers would go a long way with how White Sox players perceive themselves, especially since they are up against a true playoff contender. The Tigers might not be playing to their capabilities right now, but they are still the team that all division foes must measure themselves against.

The Tigers have lost five of their seven games this month, but we have been here so many times with them in recent seasons. The Tigers always seem vulnerable at a certain point of the season and when August and September come around, they find the gear that nobody else in the division has and close out the AL Central in style.

No matter how the upcoming series shakes out, the White Sox still figure to be in the mode of flipping assets for young long-term talent at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Players such as Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo could still be packaged in July deals to get the White Sox an influx of young talent, although don't expect major-league ready guys along the lines of Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia in return. Reliever Matt Lindstrom also figured to be in that group of trade possibilities, before an ankle injury put him on the shelf for three months.

What the White Sox can show against the Tigers this week is less long-term possibilities and more short-term potential.

So what can the Tigers series really do for the White Sox?

For starters a solid showing would indicate they are capable of moving past something like a demoralizing three-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels.

Healthy and at home with warm weather finally, can Jose Abreu turn it on after a 1-for-13 showing against the Angels, including a four-strikeout game Saturday?

Chris Sale, who is scheduled to pitch in Thursday's series finale, can show that he is capable of moving past the disappointment of Saturday's blown five-run lead when the Angels Mike Trout tagged him with a grand slam in the eighth inning.

And say what you want in hindsight about manager Robin Ventura's decision to leave Sale in that game in the late innings. There isn't a single White Sox player who doesn't appreciate a manager's decision to let a player, especially one like Sale, work his way out of his own jams. That aspect of the game carries weight as well.

So if the upcoming series needs to be about anything, it can be about fight and heart and how much of it the White Sox have inside of them. Showing some of that would be progress in itself, because fight and heart is something the White Sox had already run out of, essentially by this time last season.

Sox ready to fit Rodon into puzzle

June, 5, 2014
Jun 5
10:24
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Carlos Rodon Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY SportsSox scouting exec Doug Laumann called lefty Carlos Rodon's slider "dominant."

A left-hander who could rise quickly through the system probably wasn’t the perfect fit for the Chicago White Sox, but the team wasn’t about to turn its back on one of the best talents in Thursday’s first round of the 2014 first-year player draft.

When you get a chance to land an arm like Carlos Rondon, as the White Sox did with the No. 3 overall pick, you figure out a way to fit him in the mix.

Rodon won’t be rushed to the major leagues as quickly as Chris Sale was in 2010, but if the brass' best guess happens, he will definitely arrive sooner rather than later. It might not be out of the question to see his first full season in a White Sox uniform happen in 2016.

But it could cause a bit of an overload of left-handers if Rodon does ascend quickly. Sale has contract options that could keep him with the White Sox until 2019, while Jose Quintana’s options can take him to the 2020 season. John Danks is signed through the 2016 season.

Nevertheless, this was a player the White Sox were not going to take a pass on, even if it means seeing opponents’ lineups loaded with right-handed hitters. If Sale, Quintana and Danks are going strong when Rodon arrives, the White Sox will consider it one of those good problems to have.

“We were certainly going take best player or pitcher available,” director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann said. “The fact that it did turn out to be college guy, and that perhaps his timeline is maybe quicker ... for sure it’s quicker than perhaps a high-school kid.”

Rondon’s 436 strikeouts were a North Carolina State record and he finished his career with a 2.24 ERA for the Wolfpack. This past season he had a 2.01 ERA in nearly 100 innings, finishing with a 6-7 record mostly because of a lack of run support.

Rondon isn’t expected to unseat Sale from the top of the rotation, but he could legitimately slide into the No. 2 spot and eventually give the White Sox an impressive one-two punch. He wasn’t the hardest thrower among the top prospects available, but a mid-90s fastball is mixed with what is considered one of the best sliders among all draft-eligible players.

“It’s a good one,” Laumann said. “It freezes left-handed hitters. The one thing I try to look at, especially for left-handed pitcher, you would expect at times that a left-hander would have trouble with it, but when they can bury a slider on the back foot of a right-handed hitter and get it under their hands, then you know a guy has a really good one.

“It’s certainly a dominant pitch -- and that’s not to take anything away from his fastball and his changeup, both of which are plus pitches -- but the slider is certainly a dominant pitch for him.”

If there is a concern, it is that Rodon is represented by agent Scott Boras, someone with whom the White Sox haven’t dealt much in recent years. When Kenny Williams was general manager, he wasn’t fond of the way Boras did business and avoided Boras clients whenever possible.

Rick Hahn, as the current GM, will get a chance to mend fences and get Rondon signed to a deal. Laumann doesn’t think it will be an issue.

“It’s been our goal, ever since I’ve been around here, whether it came from [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] or Kenny or Rick, that it’s our goal to get most talented, the best player available at the spot. I think Rick and Scott Boras have a fairly good relationship.”

Sox won't get comfortable picking No. 3

June, 5, 2014
Jun 5
12:33
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Aaron NolaCrystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY SportsLSU right-hander Aaron Nola could be an option for the White Sox with the third pick in the draft.
Thank you for the No. 3 pick in Thursday night's draft. Hope to never see you here again.

That would be the Chicago White Sox's sentiment heading into Major League Baseball's First-Year Amateur Draft on Thursday night. Their high selection spot is relative to their 99-loss season from a year ago, but offseason changes have already shown that they aren't likely to select this high next year.

The White Sox weren't trying to trade a bad season for a high draft pick this year, but since they're here, was it good timing to see their won-loss record go south in 2013?

The answers to that particular query seem to contradict. While the 2014 baseball draft class seems more talented than in recent years (good), the newest collective bargaining agreement, which went into place in 2012, is believed to have watered down the college junior class this year (bad).

(Players can be drafted after high school, but for those that enroll in college, they are not eligible to be drafted again until they are juniors.)

"Since people knew the agreement was changing, you saw a lot of kids bought out of college under the last year of that old agreement," Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "In other words, this year's (would-be) college juniors, many of them were signed as high school seniors with over slot deals. ... It's not a shock. We knew this would happen with the change in the agreement."

Changes essentially put a cap on draft spending, so high school seniors in 2011 knew they had a better chance of a bigger financial score then as opposed to now.

(Read full post)

White Sox's draft focus has narrowed

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4
1:33
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- With Thursday's Major League Baseball first-year player draft fast approaching, Chicago White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams tried to play it coy when it came to the club's first-round pick.

[+] EnlargeTyler Kolek
Mike Janes/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesESPN Insider Keith Law has the White Sox selecting high school pitcher Tyler Kolek with the third pick in the draft on Thursday.
Three highly regarded pitchers are available in Carlos Rondon, Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek, so speculation is strong that the White Sox will take a pitcher with the No. 3 overall selection. Just don't expect Williams to tip his hand.

"Who said we're going to take a pitcher?" Williams said.

Shortstop Nick Gordon has plenty of intrigue. Think of his brother, Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, with a stronger build. A bat the caliber of California high schooler Alex Jackson also would be tempting. Jackson is a catcher who is expected to convert to the outfield as a professional.

White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann was a little more forthcoming when it came to the team's plans.

"I could probably sit here and say right now that more than likely we're going to probably end up with a pitcher," Laumann said. "We've got pretty much the group narrowed down to five or six guys, one of which is a position player. The other five are pitchers. So I'm fairly confident that we're going to end up with a real nice arm."

A major influence on this draft for the White Sox is the presence of slugging first baseman Jose Abreu, and to a lesser extent outfielder Avisail Garcia. In both players, the White Sox know they have the middle of the order set for some time, so drafting in that area is not the biggest priority in the first round.

The White Sox believe they could be ready to make some serious noise in the coming years, so don't be surprised to see the club use the first pick on a college pitcher who can rise quickly over a high school talent with slightly more upside.

In the minor league system, guys such as second baseman Micah Johnson, third baseman Matt Davidson and outfielder Courtney Hawkins are coming. Right-handed starter Chris Beck, currently with a 3.72 ERA in 12 starts at Double-A Birmingham, has major league ability written all over him.

Another right-handed starter figures to intrigue the White Sox because lefties such as Chris Sale and Jose Quintana will be around for some time. And lefty John Danks is locked in through 2016.

The lefty situation is expected get the White Sox to look long and hard at LSU right-hander Aaron Nola, widely believed to be the player who can rise quickest after Thursday's draft is completed.

Are the White Sox weighing college pitchers over those from high school?

"I don't know that we're leaning one way or the other," Laumann said. "You certainly look at the history. You've got a little more history in terms of their arm, whether or not they've made it through the three years of college without getting hurt and things like that. At the same time the competition level and arrival time to the big leagues certainly makes a difference.

"When you look at who might have the highest ceiling, and you look at certain kids that might be 17, 18 years old and still look like they have the ability to even get better, then it's kind of a hard weighing act to go ahead weigh one against the other. And I don't think we have a preference for one or the other."

[+] EnlargeAaron Nola
John Korduner/Icon SMILSU right-hander Aaron Nola could get to the major leagues quickly.
General manager Rick Hahn mapped out the team's plan to spend upward of $10 million for young talent in Thursday's draft and another $4 million to $4.5 million on international talent over the next two months. The minor league system will get as big of a talent influx as it has received in some time.

Despite the increased spending, though, the White Sox still intend to proceed with caution. But when it matters, they have been known to dig deeper than expected. When they drafted Sale in 2010, the club knew that his price tag was higher than they were comfortable spending, but they spent big anyway and now have a staff ace on their hands.

"Signability in every draft is a factor that you have to at least weigh, but it has not been, nor will it continue to be, a deterrent for us to make a choice when we feel it's the best guy and Chris is the perfect example of that," Hahn said.

The signing of Abreu this winter, along with trades for Garcia, Davidson and Adam Eaton, were the high-profile changes to the team. Thursday's additions will be no less important, they just might need some time to realize themselves.

"We're really now entering a six-to-eight-week period where conceivably we are adding $15 million of amateur talent to the organization, which will be a huge shot in the arm for the system while also moving the organization toward where we want it to be," Hahn said.

Nate Jones undergoes back procedure

May, 5, 2014
May 5
7:20
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO – Chicago White Sox reliever Nate Jones underwent minor back surgery Monday and the team is hopeful the right-hander can resume baseball activity in a month.

Jones, who was a candidate to take over the closer's job during spring training, was first diagnosed with a gluteus-muscle strain in spring training, then a sore hip before the back problem was identified.

He made two appearances during the first week of the season but struggled, giving up a combined four earned runs without recording an out, which left him with an ERA of infinity.

Jones, 28, underwent a microdiscectomy, where a small portion of bone is removed to alleviate nerve irritation.

“Everything went very smoothly and very well,” White Soxgeneral manager Rick Hahn said. “What they saw was as expected, and we’ll reevaluate in a month. After a month, it’s conceivable we’ll ramp up baseball activities and he can return soon thereafter as tolerated by the baseball activities. At that point it’s more about getting him into pitching shape than dealing with the back."

Abreu's influence on Sox is wide reaching

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
1:58
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Alexei Ramirez has not only bucked his career trend of April struggles, he is having one of the better opening months in team history. But it's just getting overshadowed by teammate Jose Abreu.

[+] EnlargeAlexei Ramirez
Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsA notorious slow starter, Alexei Ramirez is having one of the best opening months in franchise history.
And at this point, it seems hard to deny that the Cuban natives on the White Sox roster are having an influence on one another.

Ramirez has been in a downward trend for a few seasons, although it was hard to fault him for a rocky 2013 after his father-in-law was killed during spring training. He clearly is in a better place over a year later and it has shown on the field.

While Abreu has set major league rookie records for home runs and RBIs before May 1, Ramirez entered Wednesday's game tied with Paul Konerko for the most March/April hits in franchise history with 39. Konerko set the mark in 2002.

"Last year, everything was really in a pull mode for (Ramirez)," manager Robin Ventura said. "Then he started hitting second, started a little higher up in the lineup and started moving the ball the other way, then wanted to hit some homers and started pulling it. Right now, I don't think he really has a thought of what he's trying to do. He's just really trying to put it on the barrel, I think he's balanced."

By not thinking about what he is doing, Ventura isn't saying that Ramirez is absent-minded at the plate. It's actually quite the contrary. Instead of having a preconceived plan of where he wants to hit the ball, he's now hitting where it's pitched.

It's the exact same mindset that Abreu brought with him to the White Sox. And Ramirez doesn't seem to be the only copy-cat.

Dayan Viciedo also seems to have embraced the approach, which is what the White Sox have been trying to get him to do for years. Perhaps seeing his countryman do it finally showed Viciedo the benefits. Viciedo entered Wednesday's game batting .341, third-best in the American League.

"I'm sure there's something to it, since you're seeing guys take different approaches," Ventura said. "Jose's still a free swinger, but balance-wise and him hitting the ball the other way there has to be a residual effect. I know for Viciedo, it's very easy to see that size-wise the kind of player that they are.

"Other guys, as players you look at teammates and when they're doing well you try and cherry-pick as much as you can from them, look at how they're pitching them, look at where they're hitting the ball, body position and stuff like that. It has to have some effect."

The White Sox never claimed that signing Abreu was a way to influence Ramirez and Viciedo, but they weren't going to complain if it happened. General manager Rick Hahn has certainly witnessed just how much of an influence Abreu has been.

"I do think that when we initially acquired Jose there was a lot speculated about, 'Well, now they certainly need to keep Alexei and Viciedo in order to help Jose's acclimation to the big leagues,'" Hahn said. I'm not so sure that he's not the one having the positive effect on them."

Carroll newest elixir for pitching staff

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
11:07
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
John DanksAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhJohn Danks threw 123 pitches but could not make it out of the sixth for the White Sox.

CHICAGO – Player-personnel moves are coming fast and furious for the Chicago White Sox now, and the calendar hasn’t even reached May 1.

The latest was to call up career minor leaguer Scott Carroll from Triple-A Charlotte to make his major league debut Sunday opposite Tampa Bay Rays Cy Young Award winner David Price.

To make room for Carroll on the major league roster, rookie starter Erik Johnson was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte in hopes of getting him on track after a rocky five starts to open the 2014 season. Johnson not only had a 6.46 ERA, he had 15 walks in 23⅔ innings and a 1.77 WHIP to go along with it.

"He just needs to go and get his stuff back, get that competitive stuff that we’ve seen before," manager Robin Ventura said. "He can work on it down there. We’ve got Carroll going tomorrow."

The problem is that the White Sox have too many pitchers who need to work on things -- and it’s causing an innings backlog that is wreaking havoc. Starter John Danks threw 123 pitches in Saturday's 4-0 loss to the Rays, the third time this season a White Sox pitcher has gone over the 120 mark.

The issue has become cyclical. A starter struggles, so the White Sox have to lean on their bullpen, and then, the bullpen struggles. In turn, the starting staff has to absorb more innings to get the relievers some recovery time.

To Danks’ credit, he didn’t mind the heavy workload Saturday despite being less than two years removed from shoulder surgery.

"I love it," Danks said afterward. "I've been on [pitching coach Don Cooper] for a few years now, trying to get the pitch count up. It seems like for a few years there it was 100 pitches and you’re out. I feel like 80 pitches or 120, I’m going to feel the same the next day. I was glad to be able to go back out there and tried to get as deep as possible. I didn’t do myself any favors, but I’m trying to save the bullpen, trying to do everything I can to get us a chance."

The White Sox’s issues with walks are well documented at this point and Danks added four more to the pile against the Rays. Reversing that recent trend might not come so easily.

The rotation's most steadying influence, Chris Sale, is on the disabled list. Johnson and Felipe Paulino have had their issues, and neither is on the starting staff right now with Paulino on the DL due to shoulder soreness.

Andre Rienzo and Charlie Leesman have already been called up from Charlotte, and Carroll will make it a third starter to join the staff with just 25 games gone in the season.

Carroll fills Sunday’s rotation void, but with Johnson no longer with the club, another will come for Wednesday’s homestand finale against the Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox pride themselves on turning reclamation projects into serviceable major league pitchers, but their ability to get the most out of guys is being pushed to the limits. Cooper knows the more guys he can turn around, the longer he will have a job, but he isn’t alone in the project.

"I think one thing that has been the strength of our organization, that predates me, back to when Kenny [Williams] was the farm director, is our continuity of instruction on the pitching side of things," general manager Rick Hahn said. "Coop was the [minor league] coordinator at that time and there was essentially a … I don’t want to say a White Sox way, but an approach to teaching pitching and what we felt we could get out of guys, guys we could get better and guys we would be a little challenged to improve upon.

"And not only has Coop sort of set that tone at the big league level, but it trickles through the system to the messages that guys hear right out of the draft on the pitching side. The messages they hear then are the same messages they essentially hear from Coop. Our scouts know the types of players we feel we can get better and which ones we want to stay away from."

So enter the 29-year-old Carroll as the next project for Cooper. He nearly quit the game after needing Tommy John surgery following the 2012 season, but he continued the journey and his perseverance will be rewarded.

His longevity will likely hinge on his ability to throw quality strikes -- a plan not too many White Sox hurlers have been able to follow to this point.

Danks was simply the latest who wasn’t able to deliver the desired outing. He wasn’t awful Saturday, and the offense failed to provide run support, but Danks was stand-up enough to blame his long innings for keeping his teammates on the field too long and not at the plate, where they could work on getting into a groove.

"I just tried to bow my neck like I always do," Danks said about trying to work out of trouble all evening. "I'm going to do everything I can to give us a chance, and, unfortunately, I didn’t have it tonight. These games happen. They’re not any easier to swallow. But certainly, it’s something that happens every now and again, and you just try to be better for next time."

Hector Noesi to join White Sox on Saturday

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25
7:37
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Right-handed pitcher Hector Noesi, who the Chicago White Sox picked up Friday on a waiver claim from the Texas Rangers, is set to join the 25-man roster Saturday.

The former starter will have a role in the White Sox’s bullpen, which is what he had been doing in previous stops this season with the Seattle Mariners and at Texas. The Rangers acquired him for cash considerations from the Mariners on April 12, then designated him for assignment Tuesday.

The White Sox are certainly familiar with Noesi’s shortcomings, having scored seven runs off him in a single inning on Sunday. But they are confident they see areas that can be improved.

“He’s a guy we’ve liked for some time who has some upside. And there are two specific things that we think we can improve that he’s been doing that has hampered his success,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said, declining to get specific about those two areas. “So we’ll see if we’re effective in being able to make those adjustments in the near future and, if not, we’ll adjust accordingly.”

If the 27-year old takes to the White Sox’s planned adjustments through pitching coach Don Cooper, it isn’t out of the question they would consider making him a starter at some point down the road. For now, though, because he is not stretched out to multiple innings, he will remain a reliever.

Adam Eaton good enough to give it a go

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25
7:29
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox are making slight progress when it comes to their injury issues, as Adam Eaton returned to center field and the leadoff spot for the opener of Friday’s six-game homestand.

Eaton missed the past five games after suffering a mild left knee and hamstring strain during a game at Texas. He had been in a bit of a rough patch before the injury, going 3-for-23 (.130) over his past six games after collecting multiple hits in five consecutive contests.

Third baseman Conor Gillaspie remained out action, though, with a bruised left hand. Gillaspie, who has missed the past three games, could be headed toward the disabled list if he doesn’t show progress by Saturday, White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.

Eaton, who prides himself on toughness, will have to take some precautions for the injury.

"Something will be on my knee just to help support it, but I'm sure I could play without it," Eaton said. "You gotta follow certain rules and protocol when you go in the trainer's office. We'll be good to go, though."

His hard-nosed style is an admitted concern for the White Sox but one they are willing to live with. Since the day he joined the White Sox, Eaton has said his maximum effort might one day limit his big league days, but he doesn’t know how to play any other way.

"No, I’ve had that since the day we first started scouting him, and we’ve talked about it with him," general manager Rick Hahn said. "The thing about him is part of the great benefit he brings to us is his energy, his intensity, the way he plays the game. We don’t want to take that away from him."

The White Sox aren’t just letting him run completely free, though. They have gotten him to stop diving into first base on everything but pickoff plays.

"Yes, there’s an element of potential risk of injury, I suppose, with that type of player, but we think the good far outweighs the bad," Hahn said.

The White Sox’s complete lineup Friday against Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Chris Archer:

Adam Eaton, CF
Marcus Semien, 3B
Jose Abreu, 1B
Adam Dunn, DH
Dayan Viciedo, RF
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Alejandro De Aza, LF
Tyler Flowers, C
Gordon Beckham, 2B

Right-hander Erik Johnson is pitching for the White Sox.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
9 2.03 110 102
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .292
HRJ. Abreu 29
RBIJ. Abreu 74
RJ. Abreu 51
OPSJ. Abreu .961
ERAC. Sale 2.03
SOJ. Quintana 115