Chicago White Sox: Rick Hahn

Sox gave Beckham every opportunity

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
8:23
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Gordon Beckham Rob Tringali/Getty ImagesGordon Beckham never quite lived up to expectations that came with being a top-10 draft pick.

CHICAGO – If there is one thing the Chicago White Sox can’t be accused of, it is quitting on Gordon Beckham too soon.

Beckham, who was traded Thursday to the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named later or cash considerations, played six seasons on the South Side and never did manage to meet the expectations he set for himself as an eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft. Only one year later the infielder arrived at the major league level and turned heads.

It turned out that Beckham’s coming-out party in 2009 ended up being his curse. As much as he tried to be the guy who batted .270 over 103 games in that 2009 season, with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs, he became a modern-day Sisyphus, rolling the boulder up the hill only to see it roll back down again.

Beckham alternated slumps with hot streaks that reminded anybody watching of that 2009 season. In the interim, he made huge strides defensively at second base after growing up a shortstop. Beckham wasn’t a Gold Glover, but he turned himself into an above-average player with the leather.

But solid defense, and the continued promise of better offense, couldn’t sustain Beckham forever, especially since he was making $4.175 million this year and in line to make more in 2015, his final season of arbitration eligibility.

“You want to give everybody a fair opportunity and especially a guy you have drafted and developed and especially those who have had success at the big league level,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “You want to give them the chance to fulfill and reach and extend on that potential. With Gordon having close to 2,900 plate appearances in a White Sox uniform, I think we are all very comfortable that we did give him that chance.”

Hahn said he talked to the 27-year-old Beckham on Thursday to inform him of the deal, and even though a trade had been anticipated for some time, Beckham was said to be a little surprised when it finally went down. Beckham also expressed his appreciation that the White Sox stuck with him so long.

“Everyone throughout baseball, all 30 teams I think, are biased in favor of their own guys, and you take a little bit extra pride when it’s one of your own guys succeeding," Hahn said, "so none of us wanted to pull the plug prematurely on a guy who had the talent like Gordon, and I think we did not err on that side.”

In the end, Beckham never could find an offensive approach that sustained him for long periods. It was also clear that Beckham struggled with the mental side of the game, and his struggles that appeared when the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approached were no surprise.

“I don’t think that any of us are really in the position to explain what he was going through in his mind or what he felt,” Hahn said. “We just saw the byproduct of the hard work trying to pull himself out of the struggles when they occurred. He’s obviously of tremendous character, a great makeup guy it just didn’t work for him.

“The big part of this game, as we all know, is mental, and that can be extremely difficult to get past. Perhaps with a change of scenery it becomes easier with the new organization, not the one that drafted him, to become easier on himself or to let go of those expectations a little bit and fulfill that potential. He’s obviously still quite young and filled with talent.”

Beckham tried to let fate take its course when it came to a pending trade. He said all the right things, but his offensive struggles, which went back to the start of July, suggested it was squarely on his mind.

“You just have to let it happen the way it’s going to happen,” Beckham said just over a week before the July 31 deadline. “It’s not one of those things I’m going to worry about. If it’s here or somewhere else, that’s what’s supposed to happen.”

Hahn complimented Beckham’s work ethic and desire to win, and Beckham himself prided himself on doing whatever it took to prepare himself.

“Yeah, a lot goes into it; just a lot goes into it,” Beckham said in late July. “You show up every day, you work hard, you want it to work out for you and your team. Baseball is a very unforgiving game. You’re going well [and then] it tends to not go well. It’s a tough game. But there is a lot more that goes into it than the box score.”

Figuring how to get more consistency out of Beckham is something that plagued the White Sox year after year. Now it’s the Angels’ job to figure out what will get the talented Beckham over the hump.

“Obviously this is an extremely difficult game and a game of constant adjustments, and part of the failure that guys go through in the minor league system is learning how to adapt and pull themselves out of that failure,” Hahn said. “When you have to do that on the major league stage in a major market for the first time in your career and you have never had to fall back on those survival skills and the ability to adjust, it becomes a little more difficult.

“A lot was asked of Gordon Beckham to try to pull out of that and fulfill the expectations his talent and early performance certainly set for him. I don’t think that alone is the explanation but it may as well have contributed.”

Adam Eaton close to rehab assignment

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
8:35
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton will head out on a minor league rehab assignment Thursday but won’t necessarily be available when his disabled list stint ends Sunday.

Eaton has been out since Aug. 9 with a strained right oblique. Three days earlier he had crashed into the U.S. Cellular Field fence at full speed.

"Hopefully, he'll rejoin us sometime early next week," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "We don't have specific days laid out yet, other than I don't think it's going to be Sunday in New York because of logistics and travel."

The White Sox would next open a seven-game homestand Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians.

Eaton, who also has dealt with leg injuries and an injured finger on his right hand, has been helped and hurt by his aggressive play.

"Well, we did talk earlier in the year about the headfirst slide and stuff like that, which obviously has played a role in some of his issues," Hahn said. "I think he's learned a little bit about himself in terms of, I don’t want to say toning it down, because part of what makes him good is that aggressive play. But sort of being more selectively aggressive as a means of preserving his health."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura put that selectively aggressive play in different terms.

"This is not a guy that's played 10 years, so he's got stuff that he'll learn as he goes along -- how important he is to the team, when to run face-first into the wall and when not to when the ball's 10 feet over the fence," Ventura said. "Hopefully, he can learn that."

P Carlos Rodon could start as early as 2015

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
7:55
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox's plan is to ultimately make first-round draft pick Carlos Rodon a major league starter. The only issue is how quickly it will happen.

If Rodon ends up being added to the major league club when rosters expand in September, it would appear to be as a reliever to assist the struggling bullpen.

Moving forward, the left-hander could end up with an opportunity that Chris Sale never got, by opening his second year in the organization in a major league rotation.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Rodon
Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images/AP Images"We feel this guy is very close to being able to help us in the rotation," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said of Carlos Rodon.
"We feel this guy is very close to being able to help us in the rotation. Whether that's the first part of [2015], the second part of '15, or '16, we'll see," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "But this guy is coming, we believe, on a fairly quick path and not necessarily one that would require him to spend time in the bullpen.

"It's possible that, again, if he did come here in September, we'd use him out of the pen just to monitor, get him in and out quickly. But, again, long term, we view this guy as a starter."

Rodon made his Triple-A debut Tuesday night as a starter, but he pitched only three innings, giving up one run. He could end up making two more starts at Charlotte before the calendar flips to September, at which time the White Sox would need to make a decision.

"These notions that I've seen out there that he's going to make three starts at Charlotte then he's coming here, they're going to go to a six-man rotation or they're going to use him out of the bullpen, none of that's been said," Hahn said. "We're going to continue to put challenges in front of this kid. He's responded to each of them so far, and let's see how the next couple go."

After Rodon signed, he made a brief appearance in the Arizona Rookie League before going to Class A Winston Salem, at which he posted a 1.86 ERA in four outings.

"He's coming along quick and he's coming along real well," Hahn said. "Last night was a good outing. We again saw the plus slider, which everyone has seen going back to the college days, as well as the very impressive changeup.

"I saw from his own comments after the game, he had a good feel for where he was in terms of his fastball command not quite being where he needs it to be. But it was his first outing at a high level, and he certainly responded to the challenge."

When Sale was drafted in 2010, he went straight from being a college starter to a relief role, so he has an idea of what Rodon will be going through if he arrives in less than two weeks. Sale pitched the entire 2011 season in relief and was made a starter in 2012.

"The hardest part is the competition and playing every day," Sale said. "I went from pitching once a week in college to being ready to go every single day. In college you play, what, four games a week? You can potentially play in two weeks in a row here sometimes, so that's the biggest adjustment is that every single day there is a game and you have to be prepared regardless of what you did the previous week. Good, bad or indifferent, no matter how many times you had been there, you had to be ready."

If Rodon wants it explained even more thoroughly, Sale is ready.

"Obviously, a few years ago I was in the same position, so any time you go through something, you share what wisdom you have," Sale said. "I'm not going to say I'm going to drop knowledge on him, but, yeah, I'll obviously be there to help in any way I can."

Micah Johnson out as Sox consider call-ups

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
7:01
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Scratch Chicago White Sox second base prospect Micah Johnson from the list of potential September roster additions.

Johnson, one of the top position player prospects in the system, will be shut down for the season with a strained left hamstring. He was batting a combined .294 between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte this season and had been struggling through leg pain of late.

[+] EnlargeMicah Johnson
Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesMicah Johnson, one of the Sox's top position player prospects, will be shut down for the season with a strained left hamstring.
“The other day during an at-bat, he actually felt something in the front by the knee, which led to him being pulled out of the game and being brought to Chicago for evaluation,” White Sox GM Rick Hahn said. “It turned out that even though the pain was from the front of the leg, it was actually related to the same hamstring strain. So we’ve elected to shut him down. We’re going to give the strain four to six weeks to heal, and we expect he should be 100 percent and go into next season without restriction.”

So who will the White Sox call up?

The team needs pitching help, especially in the bullpen, but the system is thin on major league-ready arms. First-round draft pick Carlos Rodon remains a strong possibility to see time in a White Sox uniform next month, possibly as a reliever.

Rodon made his Triple-A debut Tuesday night, and the left-hander gave up one run over three innings for Charlotte.

“There has been a lot of speculation about our plans for him in September,” Hahn said. “There is nothing set in stone in terms of him coming here or not coming here. The decision is going to be made strictly based upon his development and his long-term fit for us. If we feel that he has the ability to come up here and compete, excel and learn from the experience, then it’s something we need to talk about internally and make a decision.”

Two likely roster additions will be infielder Marcus Semien and catcher Josh Phegley, who are both on the 40-man roster. Infielder Carlos Sanchez also could be recalled, and Hahn even talked about the possibility that outfielder Jared Mitchell comes up. Mitchell’s minor league career has been marked with ups and downs, but he is currently hitting the ball well in Charlotte.

Another intriguing roster addition would be first baseman Andy Wilkins, who is putting on a power display at Charlotte with 29 home runs, 35 RBIs and 82 RBIs, while slugging .568. The problem with calling up Wilkins is that the White Sox would first need to add him to the 40-man roster.

While the club already has had internal talks about who to add to the roster, Hahn said nothing has been finalized.

“I don’t have an answer on that yet,” he said. “It’s going to be more than a couple. Historically, we’ve been in the five-to-eight range, and we’ll probably be back in that range this year.”

One delicate issue with the extra bodies is that regulars will start losing playing time. Semien could be starting over Gordon Beckham at second base, and Phegley could be cutting into Tyler Flowers’ playing time behind the plate.

“I'm going to talk to [Hahn] about it,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “When you get closer to September, if guys are going to get called up and it's going to affect them, then you start talking to them about it. I don't think we’re there right now.”

Hahn: No Sox deals disappointing

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
7:37
PM CT
By Sahadev Sharma
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn characterized his feelings on the team’s lack of movement at Thursday's trade deadline as "mildly disappointed."

“We've shown a desire to make trades and we would've loved the opportunity to continue the process we started a year ago of adding key pieces in this sort of restructuring or retooling or whatever you want to call it, going forward,” Hahn said Friday. “Unfortunately the right opportunity just did not present itself.”

[+] EnlargeRick Hahn
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports"Unfortunately the right opportunity just did not present itself," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said of deadline trades.
Despite losing 99 games last season, Hahn and the White Sox have avoided a complete rebuild, instead opting to acquire young players who can make an immediate impact at the major league level. Before last season’s trade deadline, the White Sox acquired Avisail Garcia from the Detroit Tigers in a three-team trade. Despite Garcia getting hurt in the season’s first week and not playing since, the White Sox expect him to be a part of their future core, along with other recent acquisitions Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu.

Though he refused to go into much detail, Hahn said the team was close to a move Thursday that would have gotten them the type of player they’ve been eager to add of late.

“It was a three-way deal that would've wound up netting us such a piece, a guy who'd been a target for a while,” Hahn said. “But for whatever reason it fell apart about 1 o'clock yesterday and then it was fairly quiet after that till the 3 o'clock deadline passed."

According to Hahn, the work the White Sox did leading up to the deadline certainly wasn’t all for naught.

"At the bare minimum, I think we at least got a feel for some of the value of our players going forward and hopefully laid the groundwork for some future deals,” Hahn said. “Again, would've loved to have done something and sit here today to tell you we're continuing the process. It didn't happen, but hopefully within the coming weeks or months I'll be able to remind you of this conversation and say, ‘This is what we were talking about and the groundwork started around the trade deadline.’ ”

Despite the inactivity, there were plenty of rumors floating around regarding the White Sox on a very busy deadline day. But Hahn said not to trust everything that comes across.

“Every year it's inaccurate, it's the nature of the beast,” Hahn said. “There's a small circle of people who probably know exactly what's going on and as a result, a lot of the information gets passed around as third- or fourth-hand, and as a result inaccurate. I will say I felt that the rumors related to the Chicago White Sox, at least, were in my 14 years, probably the all-time low in terms of accuracy, in terms of specific players being talked about with specific clubs. I don't even know where it started. It had no connection to the reality of the conversations.”

Hahn admitted that with the deadline passing, some players who had heard their names running through the rumor mill might feel a sense of relief.

“It won't shock me if you see a few guys in that clubhouse exhale now, knowing that their name obviously has been bandied about publicly at least for a while,” Hahn said. “Now they're here and we're on the other side of it and they're able to just go and play baseball, not worry about moving families or restarting careers or changing schools or whatever was on their mind. I think if some guys were carrying around a little extra baggage, they can let some of that go and just play baseball.”

Hahn went on to compliment the players for not letting the rumors affect on-field matters, with the team returning home after a 5-2 trip. Even with all that in mind, Hahn wouldn’t rule out moves being made during August.

“We're going to be diligent on the waiver wire,” Hahn said. “We've been able to do some August waiver deals in recent memory and we have some nice groundwork laid on some certain fronts. How our club or other clubs perform over the coming weeks could change some matches. We're certainly going to stay diligent on it. We don't have a specific time for when certain things have to happen on most of the players that are out there. So it may well go into the offseason, into the winter, but if the opportunity to get better is presented, we'll jump on it.”

Hahn burned before deadline -- literally

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
7:27
PM CT
By Sahadev Sharma
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Before discussing his team’s lack of movement ahead of Thursday's trade deadline, Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn had to first explain burn marks on his face and his singed eyebrows.

“A fire-pit accident at my house on Monday night,” Hahn said Friday. “Today's actually the worst-looking day since it happened. We had neighbors coming over, we got a new fire pit and my wife tells me to fire it up. So, I turn on the gas, stick the little lighter in and it goes up in a cloud and gets my whole side of my face.”

Despite thinking he’d done serious damage, Hahn said his wife didn’t initially notice anything wrong.

“Anyway, so, fire safety's important, people. This is your lesson today from Smokey the GM. I was trying to do a deal, but I got disconnected due to the flames. Dedication,” Hahn joked.

And what exactly was for dinner?

"We were making s'mores, so it was the kids' fault,” Hahn said with a smile.

Garcia, Lindstrom ready for rehab duties

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
6:41
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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DETROIT -- Chicago White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia and reliever Matt Lindstrom will join Triple-A Charlotte on Friday to begin injury rehab assignments.

Garcia, who has been out since April after shoulder surgery, will begin his rehab assignment as a designated hitter before advancing to full games in the outfield, according to White Sox general manager Rick Hahn.

Lindstrom, out since May after undergoing ankle surgery, might need just a handful of appearances before returning to the White Sox.

The original timetable on Garcia was that he would return by spring training in 2015, although the White Sox were open to him playing winter ball. Hahn has stood by that original plan, although now he seems open to Garcia returning this season. White Sox manager Robin Ventura already has said there is a chance Garcia could return this year.

“This rehab assignment is the next step in the process,” Hahn said. “Getting him in live game action on a consistent basis, not only to get him back to a playing standpoint he’s accustomed to, but also a physical standpoint. Making sure that he can withstand it and is physically able to perform at the big league level.

“It certainly is done with the hope that the next stage is activation to the major league roster but, at the same time, as we’ve done for the past several months with his rehab, we’re going to respond to how he feels physically and how he is from a symptomatic standpoint and obviously err on the side of caution.”

As far as arm strength goes, Lindstrom seems ready to return. Getting his ankle to respond to the rigors of the game is the focus now.

“Part of it is going to be the lateral movement, getting off the mound, a lot of the drills he’s been put through and some of the things that were tested in the two simulated games he had,” Hahn said. “The arm strength, he’s been able to maintain that fairly decently through his layoff. But it is a matter of making sure the stuff and the arm strength is at the previous level before he’s activated.

“We’re just going to have to react to what he shows during the assignment before bringing him back.”

One day before the non-waiver trade deadline, chatter of deals involving the White Sox has been quiet. But adding Lindstrom and Garcia before the season ends gives the sense of being a buyer rather than a seller, since an influx of talent will be on the way for the closing months.

“I think there’s a sense of that,” Hahn said. “Certainly Matt has the ability to help solidify the back end of the bullpen, and Avi would be a big piece for us not only in the lineup but as part of our future plans, and being able to continue the process of getting to where we want to be.

“We’ve missed them both throughout this stretch. And if and when they return to the active roster, we certainly think it’s going to be a nice shot in the arm.”

One thing Hahn refuses to do is torture himself with what would have been -- had guys like Lindstrom, Garcia and Nate Jones had their health this season.

“Yeah, I get enough torture on a nightly basis, I don’t need to add that,” Hahn said. “I prefer to stay away from that because every [team] has to suffer through it. It’s part of the game. It’s unfortunate for us, but I’m sure every club is lamenting the loss of a player here or there that they felt would make something different.

“Instead, I’m just trying to be more focused on when we are getting them back and what improvements that will lead to in our performance.”

Ventura fine with Guillen comment

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
9:13
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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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
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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
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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
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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?

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.”

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Conor Gillaspie
BA HR RBI R
.305 5 46 46
OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Abreu 33
RBIJ. Abreu 93
RJ. Abreu 67
OPSJ. Abreu .962
WC. Sale 10
ERAC. Sale 2.12
SOC. Sale 158