Hahn doesn't foresee lineup upgrade on the horizon

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Hahn doesn't foresee lineup upgrade on the horizon

After finalizing the signing of reliever Matt Lindstrom on Friday, the White Sox may be done making significant moves for the offseason.

That doesn't mean the team isn't looking to make another move. Instead, it means they may not be anticipating one.

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Adding a left-handed bat to the middle of the team's lineup has been cast as a "need" since A.J. Pierzynski officially signed elsewhere, but it's a move general manager Rick Hahn won't make just for the sake of adding a left-handed bat.

"We are still actively looking for something that provides us with an upgrade," Hahn explained. "But we are not going to make the move for a left-handed bat simply because its a left-handed bat."

One name that's been connected with the White Sox in offseason trade rumors has been Arizona's Jason Kubel. The free agent cupboard is fairly bare at this point in late January, with none of the available options -- for instance, ex-Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner -- looking like a fit.

Only 10 free agent outfielders remain on the market, and of those, six bat left-handed. But Michael Bourn is likely too expensive, both from a draft pick and money standpoint, and wouldn't fit a middle-of-the-order need anyways. The same goes for Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon, the latter of whom may be on his way to retirement anyways. Former Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore won't be healthy until the middle of the season, when he reportedly plans on signing with a team.

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That leaves ex-Sox Scott Podsednik and Ryan Sweeney on the market, neither of whom fit the bill, either.

"Based on the pool that is available right now, we dont see that upgrade there," Hahn said. "You look at whats happening thus far this offseason and you have not seen a lot of premium left-handed bats, perhaps with the exception of Josh Hamilton, change teams. We certainly had a number of conversations about it. But again we are not going to force the fit just to make the move."

Still, with Detroit featuring a menacing rotation stocked with right-handers, plenty have warmed up to the idea of adding a left-hander. Hahn, though, was quick to offer a reminder that the White Sox don't actually play the Tigers until July, when the need for a left-handed bat may be more clear.

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"For me, the season needs to start, then we'll go and see what happens," manager Robin Ventura added.

The White Sox expect Dayan Viciedo to hit better than he did in 2012, in which he hit .255.300.444 with 25 home runs. But Viciedo had just a .650 OPS against right-handers and struck out 103 times in 410 plate appearances -- if that production remains stagnant, left field may be where the White Sox look to improve.

Those improvements could come internally, though, with Dewayne Wise or Jordan Danks siphoning off some playing time. For now, though, Hahn says talks remain "preliminary" about adding a left-handed bat, and Ventura didn't sound too concerned with the righty-heavy state of his lineup.

"It's nice," Ventura said of potentially adding a lefty. "But it's not mandatory by any means."

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Quintana and Miguel Gonzalez looked like a pair of pitchers who began their offseasons earlier to prep for the World Baseball Classic.

Both White Sox starting pitchers looked sharp as they made their spring debuts in a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Camelback Ranch on Sunday afternoon. Team USA relievers David Robertson and Nate Jones also pitched a scoreless inning each in the win. Prospect Zack Burdi also pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Gonzalez, who is on the Team Mexico roster, only allowed a single on a dropped pop up on the infield in two scoreless innings.

“I’m a little ahead of the game right now,” Gonzalez said. “I started a little earlier this year in the offseason to work out, thinking I wanted to go to the WBC and get ready for that. But I think the most important thing right now is getting ready for April 1 with the White Sox. That’s my goal, and you don’t get these opportunities every year. To represent Mexico, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be great.”

Quintana, who will start for Colombia in their March 10 opener against the United States, allowed a run and a hit in two innings. He struck out one and hit a batter.

“I feel good,” Quintana said. “I think for the first day I feel comfortable. I hit the glove. I feel good. A couple of pitches spinning were good and I feel really good.”

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Robertson is throwing much earlier than normal in anticipation of his March 6 departure for Miami, where Team USA begins its tournament. The club’s closer normally wouldn’t appear in a game until the calendar turns to March. Robertson said he usually only needs 5-6 spring outings to get in shape for the regular season. Though he felt a little rusty, the right-hander was pleased with several changeups and fastballs he threw.

“I wouldn’t say it was smooth but I got through it,” Robertson said. “I had a few bad pitches that were just not competitive. … All in all I got through what seemed like a tough inning for a first outing.

“I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m going to go down there and put the ‘USA’ across my chest and have a chance to win something for our country. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m excited to play with a group of guys I’ve been playing against my whole life.”

Eddie Alvarez had a three-run double for the White Sox while Tyler Saladino collected two hits in three trips. Catcher Roberto Pena went 2-for-2 with an RBI. 

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Normally upbeat and positive, Jim Thome can’t help but beam with pride when asked about his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Thome, who blasted 612 career home runs, including 134 with the White Sox, is eligible for induction for the first time in 2018. Even though he’s expected by many to one day be voted into Cooperstown, perhaps even in his first year, Thome said he’s merely honored to be on the ballot. Thome is joined on the ballot by Chipper Jones and former teammate Omar Vizquel, among others. Voting begins in December and the results will be announced next January.

“To even be on the ballot and thought of, it would be the greatest honor I think you could get,” Thome said. “Or if you get an opportunity to go into the greatest fraternity baseball has or created, it would be indescribable. How do you ever think as a kid or a high school player or even going through the minor leagues, that you’d play at the big leagues that long? And then to get an opportunity at the end of your career to be put on the ballot is so great.

“That would be the coolest moment ever.”

Thome – who is in White Sox camp as a special assistant to the general manager – provided plenty of big moments in a career that spanned 22 seasons. He hit 30 home runs in 12 of 13 seasons between 1996-2008, leading the league with 47 in 2003. The slugger was a five-time All-Star and produced 72.9 b-Wins Above Replacement.

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Thome isn’t as superstitious about his candidacy as others previously have been. He won’t be the guy to bring up the topic, but the Peoria, Ill.-native doesn’t shy away from discussing it, either.

“It’s not something you talk a lot about,” Thome said. “We’re not going to bring it up. But when people do bring it up, there’s a sense of pride, a sense of ‘Wow, baseball has thought that highly to put you on the ballot.’ And the fact that there’s just this wonderful fraternity of incredible players that you could be a part of, if you’re chosen.”