Hahn saw his future with White Sox not Cubs

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Hahn saw his future with White Sox not Cubs

There was a time where Rick Hahn seemed to be the medias favorite to be the next Cubs general manager. It got to the point where Tom Ricketts sort of shook his head, because the chairman had never actually met the guy before.

Ricketts told Jim Hendry that he would be fired during a secret meeting on July 22, 2011. Hendry kept the news buried for almost a month, not telling even some of his closest friends and family until just before the news conference inside the Wrigley Field interview roomdungeon.

With Ricketts looking for someone with a different analytical background, Hahn immediately emerged as a possible connect-the-dots candidate. Hahn had grown up in Winnetka and graduated from New Trier High School before getting degrees from the University of Michigan, Harvard Law School and Northwesterns Kellogg School of Management.

This was almost exactly one year after the Cubs won their press conference and put Theo Epsteins name in lights on the Wrigley Field marquee. Hahn looked around a U.S. Cellular Field conference room on Friday, looking for his parents and thanking them for never trying to talk sense into me as I was potentially flushing away a lot of education.

This is what Hahn had in mind, and the White Sox had been plotting this move for years. After 12 seasons in the front office and multiple interviews in other big-league cities Hahn finally realized his dream of becoming a general manager here.

It just wasnt going to happen on the North Side.

There was a lot of speculation last year about what was going on over there, Hahn said. I think they were pretty singularly focused from the start about what they wanted to do and they were able to accomplish that. It never arose anywhere close to the level that I think was speculated publicly.

Obviously, that would have been an opportunity to be a GM in my hometown, which has a lot of appeal. But it also would have been leaving the people here who Ive had long relationships with, so I didnt get too hung up on it, especially since I had sort of a sense of where this was heading pretty early on.

At the time, Epstein looked like a total reach. There was no "Theo Watch" yet.

Sure, maybe the Cubs would try to copy the Boston Red Sox model and go after Ben Cherington, Epsteins assistant general manager and eventual replacement. There was a national buzz that they were interested in Brian Cashman (who had long respected Hendry and would hire him as a special assistant with the New York Yankees).

There were suspicions that Josh Byrnes was angling for the job, though this chain of events would ultimately help make him the San Diego Padres general manager. Chicago guy Mike Rizzo whose homegrown core would win 98 games this season went on the defensive and denied interest in leaving the Washington Nationals.

Epstein left Boston for a presidents title and total control of baseball operations at Clark and Addison. From San Diego, Epstein brought in Jed Hoyer as general manager and Jason McLeod to oversee scouting and player development.

The job is 247, 365 days a year for Type A personalities. In moving up to executive vice president, Kenny Williams talked about how hed feel the pain in his neck and the churning in his stomach while watching games.

Williams played football at Stanford University and liked the Oakland Raiders, and he took that Silver and Black mentality into everything. He described how hed leave during the middle of the game and steer his car onto Lake Shore Drive to look at the water and try to find some calm.

After almost a decade of relentless scrutiny in Boston, Epstein sensed he was nearing his expiration date. He really felt energized during a recent trip to Arizona, watching prospects in instructional league and seeing The Cubs Way come to life.

John Paxson and Gar Forman are running the Bulls for Jerry Reinsdorf, but Hahn stressed that every situation is unique. Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti created a partnership within the Cleveland Indians, while Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels have turned the Texas Rangers into an annual contender.

Theo and his staff is just another example of a different sort of set-up, Hahn said. But what matters from my standpoint when I look at it is the efficacy within the office, how its going to work. Do we have the right people having the right input and the right resources? And thats what Im comfortable with here.

The media has fixated on the attendance problems on the South Side, where the White Sox were in first place deep into September and still drew less than two million fans. The Cubs lost 101 games and almost reached three million.

Hahn thinks the White Sox can reach that level, though he admits that they missed an opportunity after winning the 2005 World Series.

If we win, absolutely, Hahn said. I do feel that if we followed up 05 fairly quickly in 06 or 07 with another one or at least a deep, deep run that probably would have swayed some of the momentum in our direction. (But thats) not going to change the decision about whos on the field. So its not for me to worry about. I got enough to worry about.

So Hahn isnt going to turn into Ozzie Guillen and provide bulletin-board material for Cubs-Sox.

I really dont view it as competing with them, other than when we play, Hahn said. That may be different from a marketing standpoint, or it could be different from a fan-experience standpoint, or how others approach it. But for me, theyre another opponent and I want to beat them when we play.

Probably the ideal situation would be for both of us to have success and see what happens in this town if we actually squared off in October.

Adam Eaton's defense has forced White Sox to change plans for Avisail Garcia

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Adam Eaton's defense has forced White Sox to change plans for Avisail Garcia

Adam Eaton’s outstanding defensive play in right field has altered the team’s original plans to give Avisail Garcia some playing time there.

Through 47 games, Eaton has played at a Gold Glove-level for the White Sox. He leads all major league defenders with 14 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), according to fangraphs.com, which has made it impossible to play Garcia in the field. That has White Sox manager Robin Ventura considering other ways to get Garcia on the field, including taking fly balls in left.

“The emergence of Adam out in right field has made it different,” Ventura said. “It’s a different spot for (Garcia). Eventually he’ll be back out there, but right now, what works for us is Adam in right field.”

“Adam has been above and beyond what we really thought he would be in right field.”

Garcia, 24, has nearly been relegated to full-time duty as the team’s designated hitter in 2016. He has a total of 16 innings played in the outfield.

Last year, Garcia started 129 games in the outfield. But his collective struggles — Garcia produced minus-11 DRS in 2015 — with Eaton’s forced the White Sox to look for a defensive-minded center fielder this offseason. Whereas last year the White Sox outfield was 26th of 30 with minus-22 DRS, this season they’re fifth overall at 7 DRS with Austin Jackson patrolling center.

The team’s defense has been a critical part to the club’s early success, which makes it nearly impossible for Eaton to sit. Garcia could see time in right field on days when Eaton needs to rest. But he’s more likely to force Melky Cabrera to the bench for a day or two and has worked to prepare for such an occasion.

“He’s getting some fly balls out there,” Ventura said. “That’s probably going to be really the rotation starts coming in for him to be able to get out there and get on the field. Or if something comes up with Adam or we want to DH. I even thought of that the other night during the DH. Again, Adam feels like he’s good enough to keep going.”

Chris Sale's win streak snapped at nine as White Sox fall to Tribe

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Chris Sale's win streak snapped at nine as White Sox fall to Tribe

Chris Sale’s bid to win his first 10 starts of the season ended in spectacular enough fashion on Tuesday night for him to look at video.

The White Sox pitcher isn’t a big fan of reviewing footage of his starts.

But that’s exactly what Sale did after he endured the longest inning of his career and then some in a 6-2 White Sox loss to the Cleveland Indians at U.S. Cellular Field in front of 21,550.

Cruising through two-plus innings, Sale needed 43 pitches to escape the third inning. He only recorded one more out and allowed six earned runs. Vying to become only the eighth pitcher in baseball history to win his first 10 starts, and just the second since 1920, Sale was tagged with his first loss for the White Sox, who have lost 10 of 14.

“I had to see what’s going on,” Sale said. “Just trying to get a feel for where I was at in my mechanics and all that, seeing what was going on. I saw some stuff and (I’ll) build on that and learn and move forward.

“I don’t know if it was more (command issues) or just being bad.

“I couldn’t really pinpoint anything. I couldn’t tell you this or that. I stunk. I was bad. It was embarrassing.”

Sale said he didn’t review footage because he thought he might have tipped his pitches against the Indians, against whom he’s now 5-7 with a 4.07 ERA.

Instead, he wanted to see why he “ran into a buzzsaw.”

With two outs in the third inning, Sale’s pitch count stood at 32, including only five in the frame. He had retired eight of the first 10 batters faced.

But what appeared to be another chapter in a spectacular start to Sale’s season quickly unraveled. He walked Jose Ramirez on 10 pitches and Francisco Lindor singled him to third. Mike Napoli followed with a two-run triple that fell in between Austin Jackson and Melky Cabrera and put the Indians ahead for good.

But the inning wasn’t yet over.

Sale walked Carlos Santana on seven pitches and Juan Uribe won a nine-pitch battle when he dumped a 2-2 changeup into right for an RBI single.

Chris Gimenez started the fourth inning with a solo homer off Sale — only the sixth he has allowed in 71.2 innings this season. Sale issued two more walks and an RBI single by Lindor knocked him out of the game.

“Any time you see that, you are surprised,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “This is an off night for him. The best part is it’s not anything physical as far as he was hurting. He had velocity. He probably had too much of it.”

Sale’s attempt to become the first starting pitcher to win 10 straight since San Diego’s Andy Hawkins in 1985 ended with his shortest start since Sept. 13, 2015. He allowed seven hits, walked four and struck out seven.

The biggest disappointment for Sale isn’t the loss of the streak but that he followed a doubleheader with his shortest outing of the season. Zach Putnam, Tommy Kahnle, Matt Purke and Dan Jennings combined for 5.2 scoreless innings in relief of Sale.

“That’s what gets me the most,” Sale said. “We played two yesterday — I had to be big for the guys tonight and was the exact opposite.”

“I stunk. I was bad. I was terrible.”

Sale’s offense had to reverse its latest trend to save him from a loss.

Despite a nice showing from Jose Abreu, it didn’t.

Adam Eaton jumpstarted the White Sox with a leadoff solo homer against Josh Tomlin.

But Tomlin retired 23 of the next 28 batters he faced, including 12 in a row, to improve to 7-0.

The White Sox finished with six hits and scored three or fewer runs for the eighth time in 11 contests. They’ve produced three or fewer runs in 23 of 47 games this season and dropped to 7-16 in those contests.

“Right now it seems that way that we are streaky,” Ventura said. “Nice night by Jose, that’s a good sign to see him swinging it the way he did. You definitely want to see some more runs and things like that.

“But seeing him get going would be a nice shot inn the arm for us.”

White Sox bullpen in as 'good' a position as possible

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White Sox bullpen in as 'good' a position as possible

They merely hoped to survive the doubleheader, but members of the White Sox bullpen feel as if they’re well positioned for success.

The combined efforts of Mat Latos and Erik Johnson limited the number of outs covered by the White Sox bullpen to 16 in Monday’s doubleheader. Latos and Johnson completed 12.2 of the 18 innings played, which meant no White Sox relievers appeared in both games. Of the five relievers to pitch, Matt Purke’s 2.1 innings was the longest stint. Given they have eight relievers on hand, the White Sox like where they’re at as the pass the midpoint in a stretch with 17 games in 16 days.

“That’s about as good as you can do,” closer David Robertson said. “If we’d have had two wins it would have been a lot better. But it was a good job by the staff altogether, the starters and relievers. The defense played really well, saved us a lot of runs. It was a long day yesterday.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura only used Purke in the nightcap. In the opener, he turned to Zach Duke, Matt Albers, Nate Jones and Robertson, a group that ultimately closed out a 7-6 victory.

Duke, who pitched in parts of two innings, said he had a pretty good idea he wouldn’t be used in the second game and the same likely went for Albers.

“They kind of give us an idea what the plan is going to be that way we’re not going to be caught off guard by anything,” Duke said. “But like I say, when the phone rings you find a way to get the job done.”

The White Sox added Tommy Kahnle to the roster before Monday’s doubleheader and kept him in the majors afterward, opting to send Erik Johnson back to Triple-A Charlotte. The White Sox still have eight more consecutive games to play after Tuesday’s contest against the Cleveland Indians before a day off next Thursday. Given they’re set to play the New York Mets in interleague, they may stick with the eight-man bullpen for now.

“We wanted to make sure we were covered down there,” Ventura said. “You never know how that’s going to go.”