KANSAS CITY -- Paul Konerko has been to enough All-StarGames to know their importance.While there is constant media scrutiny over whether or notan exhibition game should determine home field advantage for the World Series,Konerko, a six-time All-Star, said players take the event seriously.Sure, Mondays press conferences and the Home Run Derby arefun, Konerko said. But come Tuesday, the contest takes on a serious tone.Theres definitely a focus that is there on the bench andin the clubhouse, said Konerko, who earned his third straight All-Star nodlast week. Especially in the last couple of them. Todays all fun and tomorrowhalf the day is kind of fun. But as it gets closer to game time, it feels morelike a normal day inside the clubhouse.The White Sox slugger knows his team potentially has more atstake this season than other clubs. With the White Sox currently ahead of theAmerican League Central by three games, Konerko, Adam Dunn, Jake Peavy andChris Sale could help determine whether or not the franchise could host up tofour games if it were to reach the World Series.But even if that isnt the case, the drive is still there.We keep that in our heads that this could matter for us,Konerko said. But that second thought is, if it doesnt matter for us, westill want to keep it inside of our league. Ask the Rangers guys about that. Theyknow homefield advantage is crucial. Thats the goal is to win. You still havefun and joke around, but as you get closer to the game you have responsibilityand dial it in.
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.
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“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.
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.”
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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.