SoxFest notes: Konerko supports MLB's new HGH testing

865043.png

SoxFest notes: Konerko supports MLB's new HGH testing

Paul Konerko said hes in favor of Major League Baseballs new policy, in which players will be tested for HGH. Earlier this month, MLB implemented a policy which requires players to available for in-season testing after the plan was approved by the players union.

MLB officials have indicated players will be randomly selected for HGH tests at least once every season, but not during the postseason, according to media reports.

This is just about the right progression, Konerko said at SoxFest on Friday. As soon as there was testing there was going to be testing as soon as the science was up to doing it. This should be the way to test because now that the science is there, you can test guys from all angles and test for everything you want to test for.

The only issue Konerko can foresee is how some players react to blood tests. Players previously submitted blood tests in spring training last season.

I dont have a problem having blood drawn, Konerko said. I can see that might be the issue for some guys. Some guys, if they get blood drawn in the afternoon, they are done for the day. They are a mess. As for me I have never had a problem giving blood. The issue about how it is done will have to be figured out.

-- Dan Hayes

More from SoxFest: White Sox think Lindstrom is the perfect fit

Peavy: Detroit's the team to beat

White Sox starter Jake Peavy is confident in his team's chances of unseating Detroit atop the AL Central, but he's not going to make any bombastic statements about his squad in relation to the Tigers.

"I'm not going to say the White Sox are the team to beat because we're not," Peavy said. "The Tigers are the team to beat. They're the AL Central champions, they're the American League champions. They're the team to beat."

Detroit will return the core of its 2012 team along with catcher Victor Martinez, who missed all of last season following an ACL injury in the offseason. Until Peavy's White Sox are able to unseat the Tigers, the right-hander feels his team has plenty to prove.

"Are we sitting here that we're conceding? Absolutely not," Peavy said. "This team won't concede anything until we're mathematically eliminated. And we all believe right now that that's not going to happen. We know that we have enough talent, as we did last year, to play with the Detroit Tigers, who were the American League champions. There's not a player in this room who was on this team last year who doesn't believe we can beat that team."

- JJ Stankevitz

More from SoxFest: Danks ready to take the next step

No WBC for Santiago

Pitcher Hector Santiago confirmed Sunday he wont to play in the World Baseball Classic in March. Santiago (Puerto Rico) was one of five White Sox players listed on provisional WBC rosters. Jesse Crain (Canada) and Alex Rios (Puerto Rico) are expected to participate as are minor-leaguers Andre Rienzo (Brazil) and Andy Gonzales (Puerto Rico).

-- Dan Hayes

Mitchell primed to turn the corner?

Jared Mitchell hit .237.358.420 between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte last season, which represented a step in the right direction for the team's 2009 first-round draft pick. His trikeout total was still high -- 179 in 549 plate appearances -- but White Sox assistant GM Buddy Bell feels the 24-year-old is starting to put everything together.

"I saw a guy who's starting to look like a baseball player," Bell, who's raved about Mitchell since seeing him play in the Instructional League last fall, said. "(He's) a guy who looks like a baseball player that's athletic as opposed to an athlete trying to play baseball."

-- JJ Stankevitz

More from SoxFest: Thomas confident in Hall of Fame rsum

Reed working to avoid another slow finish

Addison Reed's offseason has consisted of plenty of cardio in an effort to avoid another late-season letdown.

As a rookie, Reed allowed 13 hits, two walks and eight runs in nine September innings. The right-hander said he didn't feel tired -- his fastball velocity in September was consistent with the rest of his season -- but the issue may have bee a little more latent.

"It might have been a combination of the hitters seeing me a couple times around," Reed said. " Physically, I didn't feel tired, but that didn't mean I didn't get tired."

-- JJ Stankevitz

More from SoxFest: Flowers' first appearance goes well

Oh those fans

Pitcher John Danks elicited plenty of laughs in a Sunday afternoon seminar when he was asked about his habits when he watches University of Texas sporting events.

I become one of the fans I hate, Danks said.

-- Dan Hayes

White Sox top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito throws no-hitter in Triple-A Charlotte

giolito-227.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito throws no-hitter in Triple-A Charlotte

Lucas Giolito threw a seven-inning no-hitter in Game 1 of Thursday's Charlotte Knights doubleheader.

The White Sox top pitching prospect recorded three strikeouts and issued three walks in a 4-0 win.

The Knights' Twitter account posted a video of the final out:

Perhaps the best part? It was against the Syracuse Chiefs, the Washington Nationals' minor league team.

The Nationals selected Giolito with the 16th pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. Last offseason, the 22-year-old was traded to the White Sox — along with Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning — as a key component in exchange for Adam Eaton.

The last Knights pitcher to throw a no-hitter was Andre Rienzo on July 25, 2013 against the Indianapolis Indians, which also came in the first game of a doubleheader.

White Sox: Jose Abreu's five-week tear filled with hard contact, fewer strikeouts

White Sox: Jose Abreu's five-week tear filled with hard contact, fewer strikeouts

Jose Abreu has made quite a turnaround from being a guy who was admittedly lost to bashing the ball like Abreu of old.

From April 19th on, Abreu has hit at another level, reminiscent of the performances he put on throughout an eye-opening 2014 campaign in which he was the unanimous American League rookie of the year winner. Over that stretch, Abreu has slashed at an absurd .347/.404/.677 clip with nine doubles, one triple, 10 home runs and 22 RBIs in 136 plate appearances.

Earlier this week, Abreu said the run is the product of trusting his tireless preparation.

"I struggled in the first few weeks of the season but I kept working," Abreu said through an interpreter. "Now I'm at this point where I feel very good and confident with my offense and things are going well for me. That's part of what you work for and if you work hard, you know the results will be there at the end of the day."

Two numbers that have improved significantly during Abreu's five-week tear are his average exit velocity and strikeout rate.

Abreu entered Wednesday 39th in the the majors with an average exit velocity of 90.5 mph this season, according to Baseball Savant.

But Abreu wasn't hitting the ball nearly as hard early this season, which was littered with weak contact. Abreu stumbled out of the gate with a .157 average, one extra-base hit and only five RBIs in his first 54 plate appearances. Through the first two weeks, Abreu's average exit velocity was 89.0 mph on 31 batted-ball events, which was slightly down from last season's 89.6 mph average and significantly down from 2015, when he averaged 90.9 mph.

Since then, however, Abreu has seen a significant increase in hard contact. Over his last 92 batted-ball events, Abreu is averaging 92.6 mph, a total that would qualify for 15th in the majors this season. Included in that span is 35 balls hit 100 mph or more.

But Abreu's success isn't just related to how hard he has hit the ball. He's also made much better contact this season and is striking out less than ever. Abreu struck out 14 times in his first 54 plate appearances (25.9 percent). But since then, he has whiffed only 17 times in 136 plate appearances, good for a 12.5 percent strikeout rate.

His season K-rate of 16.3 percent, according to Fangraphs.com, is down from a career mark of 19.6 percent.

"You have started to see him heat up a little," manager Rick Renteria said earlier this week. "He's given us solid at-bats. He's in a good place right now."

Actually, it's a great place and one Abreu hasn't done with consistency since 2015. He once again looks like the hitting machine he was for most of his first two seasons and the final two months of 2016.

Abreu is on pace to hit 36 home runs this season, which would match his 2014 total. His current wRC+ of 138 is his highest since he finished 2014 at 167.

Last season, Abreu didn't hit his 10th home run until June 18. He hit his 11th homer on June 23 and then didn't hit another until August 4. That stretch raised myriad questions both inside the organization and externally about whether or not Abreu would return to prominence as a hitter. Perhaps inspired by the August arrival of his son, Dariel, Abreu finished 2016 with a flurry, hitting .340/.402/.572 with 14 home runs in his final 241 plate appearances.

General manager Rick Hahn said last September that the stretch was important for White Sox evaluators to see.

"It certainly makes you more confident as you see him over the last six weeks, projecting out that he's going to be that same player that he was for the first two years of his career," Hahn said. "Earlier, when he was scuffling, you looked at some of the things he was doing from his approach or some of the mechanical issues he might have been having and you felt confident he was going to be able to get back. But in all candor, you like seeing the performance match what you're projecting and we've certainly seen that over the last six weeks."

The White Sox offense has benefitted from Abreu's leap back into prominence. The team has averaged 4.53 runs per game this season and is 9th in the American League with 204 runs scored and 17th overall in the majors. But the increase in offense still hasn't helped the White Sox improve in the standings. While Abreu is glad to be on the roll he is, he'd prefer if his team is along for the ride.

"We're are passing through a tough moment, a rough stretch," Abreu said. "For me as I've always said the team is first. I want to thank God for how I've performed through this rough stretch. But it's not something makes me feel happy because we didn't win as many games as we wanted to win. It's tough."