White Sox continue to talk to Pierzynski

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White Sox continue to talk to Pierzynski

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Though it appeared unlikely not long ago, the White Sox have continued their pursuit of A.J. Pierzynski, according to a baseball source.
On Tuesday, one day after White Sox general manager Rick Hahn went out of his way several times to say the club hasnt ruled out Pierzynskis return, and amid swirling New York Yankees rumors, a baseball source confirmed the two sides continue to have dialogue.
The events of the last two days are in stark contrast to early November, when all signs appeared to point to Pierzynskis departure after eight seasons on the South Side. After all, the White Sox had several needs and limited funds; the veteran is due a raise after hitting a career-high 27 home runs last season; the club has a viable replacement in Tyler Flowers and also appeared to be inclined to solve their other issues first.
Though Hahn has stated all along hes interested in Pierzynski returning, he also has thoroughly backed Flowers as a potential replacement.
The White Sox are high on Flowers game-calling abilities coupled with his receiving skills and arm. Though he at times struggled at the plate last season, the team also believes Flowers is capable of 20-home run power and all at a bargain price compared with Pierzynski, who earned 6 million last season and made it clear he wants a market-value deal.
Over the last few days, Mike Napoli signed a three-year, 39 million contract with the Boston Red Sox and Russell Martin received 17 million over two seasons from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sources made it sound as if the White Sox were OK with the prospect of handing Flowers the reins and letting Pierzynski leave because of expected high prices.
But the White Sox position may have shifted recently for several reasons.
One prominent issue is the team would almost certainly need to find a left-handed bat to replace Pierzynski were he to leave. While Hahn has said he doesnt believe it to be a fatal flaw, the White Sox lineup would be down to Adam Dunn and Alejandro De Aza as their only regular left-handed hitters if Pierzynski left.
Hahn has also noted the team would weigh the cost of signing or trading for a third baseman versus their own internal options. On Tuesday, Hahn and manager Robin Ventura said they wouldnt rule out the chance of Brent Morel making the team were he healthy. Morel -- who eight homers and had 19 RBIs in 27 games in September 2011 -- missed most of the 2012 season with a back injury, but the team believes hes on the road to recovery.
Another significant issue is Hahn doesnt sound like he wants to break up the White Sox pitching depth to solve their issues. Even though Gavin Floyds name has been mentioned consistently among trade rumors, the White Sox would likely need to bring in another arm were they to move Floyd, whose 9.5 million salary next season is a bargain. The White Sox would likely need to spend more money than theyd like to find a pitcher capable of providing them 200 innings.
Floyds durability -- he has made at least 29 starts in each of the last six seasons -- could also prove important for several other reasons. Jake Peavys 219 innings were his most since he had 173 23 in 2008. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana each eclipsed career highs for innings in 2012. And though indications are John Danks is well on the road to recovery, hes still coming off an August shoulder surgery.
While recent developments appear to be a 180-degree shift, none of it should come as a surprise, either.
Last month, Hahn refused to handicap the situation because of the sentiment factor. Last time Pierzynski was a free agent before the 2010 season, owner Jerry Reinsdorf stepped in at the last minute to ensure the catcher stayed in town.
Pierzynski, who likely is looking at his final contract, has also spent eight years with the White Sox. Hes comfortable in the clubhouse and is loved by fans for helping to bring Chicago its only World Series title in the last 95 years.
So while chances once appeared remote, and another source suggests they may still be, the possibility of Pierzynskis return to the South Side next season still exists.

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — If Carlos Rodon starts on the disabled list as expected, the White Sox won't turn to any of their vaunted top prospects in the interim.

The news on Rodon has been encouraging so far as no structural damage has been discovered. Still, the White Sox won't clear Rodon until after he receives a second opinion on Monday. While the length of Rodon's absence won't be determined for several days, the White Sox are certain of one route they won't take — they don't want to disrupt the development of their young starting pitchers. Were a DL trip for Rodon necessary, the White Sox would likely select either Saturday's starter, Dylan Covey, or minor leaguer David Holmberg over their top prospects. Covey made a strong impression on Saturday afternoon with 3 2/3 scoreless innings pitched and the White Sox rallied for a 10-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark.

"When you have an opportunity to stabilize action or movement for players it serves them better," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "They get a little more comfortable where they're at. They get comfortable with the staffs they're working with and the information they're gathering, being in a routine. It is a little disruptive going from team to team to team. It happens, but it's not the most conducive (to learning)."

The White Sox are all about development this season. Therefore, they have no plans to call upon Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer or Michael Kopech unless they're A) ready and B) throwing every fifth day in Chicago. Renteria's comments Saturday reiterated Rick Hahn's earlier message, saying the club doesn't want to disrupt the development path.

That puts Covey, a Rule 5 draft pick in December, with a decent opportunity to make the club out of camp. Covey commanded the strike zone on Saturday only hours after Renteria said he hoped to see the young right-hander replicate an Arizona Fall League performance that initially warmed the White Sox up to him.

Aside from a two-out walk in his final inning, Covey was sharp the whole way. He allowed three hits and struck out three.

"My last couple of outings I was definitely feeling the stress," Covey said. "I was kind of pitching a little passive, pitching to not make a mistake instead of just going right after guys. So today and yesterday I just thought I'm just going to throw every pitch with conviction and see what happens. I got a lot of weak contact today and some swings and misses, so I felt good."

Covey threw 44 pitches, 27 for strikes. He potentially could stay in Arizona on Thursday and make an additional minor league start to build arm strength, which would get him to roughly 60 pitches before the regular seasons started.

The White Sox don't officially need a fifth starter until April 9 and they're off the following day. That break could allow the White Sox to start Covey as part of a bullpen day. Covey said he recently changed his mindset after lackluster results in relief this spring. The right-hander has a 6.94 ERA this spring in 11 2/3 innings.

"Obviously my last two outings out of the pen I wasn't getting crushed, but I just wasn't commanding the ball or commanding the count as much as I would like to be," Covey said. "The mistakes get hit a little harder when you're falling behind in the count. Today I wanted to have the mindset of attacking hitters, throwing everything down in the zone and going right after them, and it worked out."

The White Sox blasted six home runs in the contest, including a majestic, go-ahead grand slam by first baseman Danny Hayes in the top of the ninth inning. Hayes is hitting .351/.400/.595 with two homers and is tied for the team lead with 13 RBIs this spring. Jose Abreu, Nick Delmonico, Cody Asche, Everth Cabrera and Jacob May also homered for the White Sox. 

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

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USA TODAY

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While he still has a second opinion ahead and is likely to start 2017 on the disabled list, a clean MRI has Carlos Rodon feeling relieved after a bizarre Thursday.

The White Sox pitcher described Saturday the strange experience he’s had the past few days dealing with soreness in his left bicep.

In the span of 48 hours, Rodon -- who will receive a second opinion on Monday -- went from feeling good enough after a midweek bullpen session to request that his first start be moved up to likely landing on the DL. As he prepares to navigate the rehab process, Rodon is more at ease after an MRI on Friday showed no structural damage.

“(Thursday) was a weird day for me,” Rodon said. “I wasn’t very happy with it. I got that checked out, trying to figure it out.

“I feel better. It’s reassuring.”

“(Your arm is) your tool. It’s concerning. But that’s why you go get those things checked out and make sure everything is ok. That’s what we did.”

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Rodon, who went 9-10 with a 4.04 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 165 innings in 2016, has one more checkup before he’s all clear. He travels to Los Angeles on Monday for an appointment with Dr. Neal ElAttrache. General manager Rick Hahn said Friday that a second opinion is “protocol.”

Though he has already been reassured -- the club’s diagnosis was he had no structural issues after a physical exam and then the clean MRI -- Rodon wouldn’t mind more confirmation. The left-hander said he hadn’t experienced the kind of tightness he suddenly felt in his biceps tendon before Thursday. He could lift his arm above his head, but Rodon said his stuff wasn’t the same. After he informed them, the White Sox determined to be cautious.

“It’s pretty tight up there,” Rodon said. “I’ve never really been that tight. I couldn’t really step on some balls I wanted to throw to get that arm going. So, I had to get it checked out. It didn’t feel too good.”

The White Sox already had Rodon on a delayed schedule where he needed to hit every mark to be ready for the regular season. They did so in hopes of helping him avoid the fatigue he experienced last summer and also reaching the 200-inning mark this season. Now it appears Rodon will begin the season on the DL, according to Hahn.

Though he’d like to start the season on schedule, Rodon wants to make sure he’s physically good to go.

“Just trying to be healthy man,” Rodon said. “You don’t want to go the start of the season and be behind the best guys. You are a tick down from the best guys in the world. It’s not fun pitching when you are not feeling too good. I want to be 100 percent when I’m out there. That gives our team the best chance of winning.”