Friday marks the opening of SoxFest, and really, the opening to the new season of baseball on the South Side. This is when the narratives begin to take shape as the team moves away from the offseason and towards Spring Training. After sifting through the lobby full of fans waiting around hoping to run into a player, I made my way into the media room at the Hilton. As deprived as the fans are for anything baseball related, the local media has also been deprived, as the White Sox front office has not spoke publicly since December 13th.
After going through it last year, I’ll say the media portion of SoxFest goes by incredibly quick. The White Sox media relations team is clear that SoxFest is an event reserved for fan experience so all formal interviews must be done by 3:45 on Friday afternoon – before SoxFest actually even starts. General Manager Rick Hahn kicks off the ceremony when he takes the stage at 2:30. Another fifteen-minute presser follows Hahn as Manager Robin Ventura takes questions from the Chicago media. The remaining hour is reserved for the media, and myself apparently, to speak with the executives, players and prospects of the Chicago White Sox.
Rick Hahn Press Conference
Hahn took the stage and informed the media that he would start with an opening preamble and then let the media answer any questions they may have. Below are some of the more distinguished quotes from the White Sox General Manger.
Opening Statement: “It (SoxFest) is a bit of an artificial deadline. Last year we clearly had a lot of the heavy lifting done. We are still going to work with what seems to be a rather fluid market for players right up until Opening Day.”
On Fulmer: “The funny thing is if Carson contributed to us in 2017, the year after this one, that would be an extremely quick developmental period… Given how quickly Chris Sale came along, how quickly Carlos Rodon came along, there’s an idea in the back of some people’s head that perhaps Carson will be on that same path given his talent, given his makeup…Certainly we’re not ruling anything out. The good ones have a way of forcing that time frame and letting you know when they’re ready and once they do we’ll create that opportunity for them.”
On Anderson breaking Spring Training with the club: “He’s had a pretty clear development path. If we stuck with that plan the next stop would be Charlotte.”
On Saladino replacing Alexei Ramirez as the shortstop: “That’s a very strong possibility. He’ll come into camp along with Carlos Sanchez right now and compete for that job. We have a lot of confidence in Tyler especially from a defensive standpoint and if he were to join the club as the everyday shortstop hitting out of the nine hole we know he’s going to be able to do certain things we look for from that spot.”
On the idea of rebuilding, “The notion that, “could we change directions, could we go, say, to a total rebuild situation,” everything is always on the table when you don’t achieve your goals. At this point we decided it was important to take advantage of the talent we had on this roster. With Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, Rodon, Eaton and Quintana entering arguably the primes of their career. At this time we didn’t feel like it was the right move to make. We felt it was the time to augment this roster and not subtract from it.”
On potentially adding a bat, “The more options we have the easier it is for Robin to go with the best lineup. If there is, whether it’s the group we have today or if there is another addition, it will create a situation where the best guys are going to play. We certainly would love to put Robin in the spot where he has more quality choices to make and he’s able to use the lineup card as a meritocracy and the best guys play.”
On rumored 3 year stance on free agent outfielders, “Let me make something really clear: There is absolutely no hardline, dogma, limit on contract terms with free agents. The reason we didn’t sign any of the hitters that thus far have signed elsewhere at the end of the day is not about contract term limitations. We had numerous conversations, with various parameters, various structures, right up until the day or the day before these players wound up choosing their ultimate destinations.”
After Hahn left the stage, Ventura spoke quickly and the media session took place. I was able to get some short interviews with Adam Engel, Eddy Alvarez, Jacob May, Carson Fulmer, Scouting Director Nick Hostetler and General Manager Rick Hahn. We will post these interviews throughout the week. For more coverage from SoxFest, you can follow us on twitter @FutureSox and subscribe to our articles below.
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