After a pair of playoff disappointments, general manager Rick Hahn made it clear where his sights are set for the White Sox this season.
He’s eyeing the biggest prize of all.
“I’m not real good at feeling that we’ve met our expectations or satisfied our expectations if it doesn’t end with us winning a championship,” Hahn said Friday.
“Now, obviously, a lot can happen health-wise, competitiveness-wise, various other things that impedes your ability to win a championship in any given season. Ultimately we want to do everything in our power to put ourselves in the best position to do that. If it doesn’t happen, then we can assess, sort of, the reasons why on the back end.”
If that wasn’t quite a “World Series or bust” proclamation, it sure came close to one. And it’s not hard to see why his expectations are soaring.
Coming off back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history, the White Sox are looking for more with spring training under way now that the lockout is over.
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With an elite lineup and pitching staff and Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa coming out of retirement, the White Sox rolled to a 93-69 record and beat Cleveland by 13 games to win the AL Central last season. But instead of making a deep run, they failed for the second year in a row to advance in the playoffs.
Chicago got knocked out by Houston in four games in the division series, after losing 2-1 to Oakland in the wild-card series in 2020.
They are loaded with stars like Tim Anderson and José Abreu anchoring the lineup and Lucas Giolito leading the rotation, and the White Sox already have addressed some issues.
Hahn added pitching depth with the signings of Joe Kelly and Vince Velasquez. It remains to be seen who will be in right field, but veteran Josh Harrison has come on board to take over at second base. Reliever Craig Kimbrel, who had a $16 million club option exercised in November, could be a candidate to be dealt to a team looking for a closer. He struggled setting up Liam Hendriks following a trade from the crosstown Cubs in July.
Hahn said the truncated spring training will likely mean more limited pitch counts for starters in the season’s early going. The White Sox have also had some discussions about using a six-man rotation.
Hahn expects hard-throwing lefty Garrett Crochet to pitch mainly out of the bullpen with some long relief appearances and spot start now that Michael Kopech is in the rotation. Crochet made 54 relief appearances as a rookie last season.
“We know we have a team that’s very capable of winning a championship as it is, but that’s not going to stop us from continuing to explore every different avenue to improve the club,” Hahn said. “It’s easy for us to sort of do that in our offices and out at minor league mini-camp or whenever we’re able to sort of gather as a group of staff members. But really, it’s now you blend those plans with reality here over the next several weeks.”
Gallery: Playoff baseball returns to the South Side as White Sox host Houston in ALDS
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