AJ may need extra boost for All-Star bid

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AJ may need extra boost for All-Star bid

NEW YORK -- A.J. Pierzynski celebrated his 1,000th game with the White Sox in style on Saturday with two solo home runs.

Already with 14 homers this season, the veteran catcher is within four of the career-high 18 he established in his first season with the White Sox in 2005. His play has many in the clubhouse of the belief Pierzynski is worthy of a nod when All-Star rosters are announced on Sunday. Pierzynskis current .849 OPS is easily the highest of his career and hes hitting .285 with 45 RBIs.

A two-time All-Star, Pierzynski said hed enjoy the opportunity to head to Kansas City over the break, but its not something hes going to count upon. As of last Monday, Pierzynski was fourth among American League catchers in the fan vote, one in which Texas Mike Napoli held a hearty lead. Minnesotas Joe Mauer is also a likely candidate to make the team because he is easily his teams top -- and perhaps only -- candidate for consideration.

It would be great, Pierzynski said. Ive done it a couple of times. Its awesome. Its the ultimate personal reward as a player to be voted as an All-Star, to go there and enjoy the game. At the same time, I know how it works. Its a popularity contest and I know Im probably not going to win it and Im not going to go. Ive been there before. Ive had good first halves before and not gone so Im not going to put a whole lot of stock into it. Or get my hopes up. I think I deserve it, but if not its OK. Im not going to lose any sleep over it.

Pierzynski believes his home run total is up because of a combination of technique and maturity. Whereas in the past he hit with more top spin, Pierzynski said he has tried to hit with more backspin this season. He also said he has done a good job to avoid getting out in front when he swings.

I think now that Ive gotten a little bit older, Ive settled down a little bit, Pierzynski said. I still have my moments where I get mad, but Ive kind of learned to control especially this year a little bit better. Just trying to technique em and just get the barrel and back spin balls instead of getting a little bit anxious and getting out front. Ive always hit a lot of balls with top spin. Its gotten me a lot of hits, but it doesnt lead to hitting for power and this year Ive hit a lot more balls with backspin that have carried.

Good health has allowed Pierzynski to reach the 1,000-game mark with the franchise quickly at a position where durability is rare. Pierzynski has averaged 133 games a season since he joined the White Sox.

Ive been lucky, Pierzynski said. I havent had any major injuries, things that put me on the shelf. Last year was my first time on the shelf and it was miserable. Im fortunate to have been on competitive teams where the manager runs me out there a lot and I have to thank my parents for giving me good genes. I enjoy my job, taking the field every day. Its something I hope I can do for a few more years.

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'still thoroughly, deeply engaged' in trade talks as meetings close

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'still thoroughly, deeply engaged' in trade talks as meetings close

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The White Sox have a pair of relievers to dangle and have become increasingly busier with two of three free-agent closers off the board.

Prior to leaving the Winter Meetings on Thursday, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was asked if a pool of relievers including closer David Robertson and setup man Nate Jones had drawn much interest.

Having already traded Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, it’s believed the White Sox are willing to part with most anyone if the price is right. It sounds as if that possibility has improved after the Yankees’ late night signing of Aroldis Chapman on Wednesday, two days after the San Francisco Giants signed Mark Melancon. With only Kenley Jansen still left in free agency and due a big salary, Robertson, who has two years and $25 million left on his deal, could solve several teams’ relief needs. Jones is also a draw with potentially five years left on his current team-friendly deal, which includes two club options and one mutual option for 2021.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“We’ve had a lot of interesting conversations on a number of different fronts involving are players,” Hahn said. “And yes, we still have reliever pieces and starting pieces that are appealing to various teams throughout the league. I don’t think anything is going to happen between now and the time I go pick up my bags and head to the airport. But still thoroughly engaged, deeply engaged on a number of different fronts.”

Despite adding five pitchers and two position players through their first two moves, the White Sox still have a long list of desires. That list potentially includes a long-term starting catcher and another big bat among others.

White Sox add pitcher Dylan Covey in Rule 5 draft

White Sox add pitcher Dylan Covey in Rule 5 draft

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The White Sox added another young pitcher on Thursday when they selected right-hander Dylan Covey in the Rule 5 draft.

Covey, formerly the No. 20 prospect in the Oakland A’s farm system, missed all but six starts of the 2016 regular season after he sustained an oblique injury. A fourth-round selection in 2013, Covey also made six starts in the Arizona Fall League, compiling a 4.74 ERA in 24 2/3 innings. He is the sixth pitcher added by the White Sox at the Winter Meetings this week, including five acquired in the trades for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Covey, who must stay on the major league roster the entire season or would potentially be offered back to Oakland, can compete for a spot in the bullpen or even the team’s rotation.

“Interesting kid,” Hahn said. “Up to 95 with some sink. Four-pitch mix. Obviously, he’s not a finished product. But we think he has a chance to compete for a spot in our bullpen or possibly even in the rotation. Long term he has starter potential and we’ll just have to wait and see how he looks when he gets to Glendale. But interesting arm and we’re interested in adding as much talent as we can to the organization.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The White Sox added a bevy of prospects in the previous two days, including MLB.com’s top-ranked position player (Yoan Moncada) and pitcher (Lucas Giolito). The haul also includes talented pitchers Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez, among others.

“It’s a weird feeling,” Hahn said. “Mixed emotions. You never like parting ways with stalwarts on this roster like Chris Sale and Adam Eaton. At the same time, we had a plan that we know is going to take some time and it’s nice to feel good about the first steps in that plan and the return which we received.”

Originally selected in the first round of the 2010 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, Covey opted for college after he was diagnosed with Diabetes. Covey played alongside Cubs star Kris Bryant for three seasons (2011-13) and White Sox farmhand Louie Lechich at the University of San Diego before Oakland drafted him in 2013.

Covey was limited to six regular season starts in 2016 at Double-A Midland after his oblique injury. He finished 2-1 with a 1.84 ERA in 29 1/3 innings.