DENVER — With no blue chip pitching prospects on the verge of reaching the majors the White Sox are willing to take a chance on Tommy Hanson.
Hanson, who is 49-35 with a 3.80 ERA in his career, is headed for extended spring training and then to Triple-A Charlotte after the White Sox signed him to a minor-league deal on Monday.
The right-hander has posted double-digit victories in four of five seasons in the majors but he has also experienced health issues. Last season, Hanson went 4-3 with a 5.42 ERA in 15 games (13 starts).
If Hanson can regain form the White Sox have something, said his former minor-league teammate Tyler Flowers. The pair spent several seasons together in Atlanta’s farm system and last played together in the Arizona Fall League in 2008.
“He was pretty much dominant when I played with him,” Flowers said. “His curve was a good pitch for him. He started developing a good changeup at that time and his fastball was one of those heavy balls with late life. … Big-time competitor. Very hard worker and definitely competes. It’ll be interesting to see what he’s looking like, what’s going on. The ability is definitely there without a doubt. The competitiveness is there without a doubt. The work ethic is there.”
But whether or not the stuff is will be the determining factor if Hanson can reach the big leagues with the White Sox.
Since 2010, Hanson has seen a decline of more than 3 mph in his fastball velocity. He went to camp with the Texas Rangers this spring but didn’t make the club even though the starting rotation suffered several injuries. So while the White Sox aren’t assuming much of a risk, Hanson needs to prove he belongs.
“We view Hanson as a guy who is still young and not too far removed from having success at the major league level,” general manager Rick Hahn said in an email. “Hopefully after working with our guys in extended and then in Charlotte, he'll be back on track towards the upward trajectory his career was on a few years back.”
— White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he’ll give Jose Abreu a day off soon but the first baseman hasn’t needed one yet. But even though the schedule is roughly 70 games longer than in Cuba, Ventura doesn’t suspect Abreu will need many days off.
“I don’t look at it like he has to have two days off a week,” Ventura said. “He wants to play. He’s a mature kid. He’s not 19. He’s willing to go out there and play.”
— Jim Thome will throw out the first pitch Friday at Triple-A Charlotte as the club opens its new downtown park, BB&T Ballpark.
— The White Sox may break out their retro 1983 uniforms for the first time this season on Sunday.