White Sox believe they are title contenders
Club is hungry coming off a 100-loss campaign in 2018
Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Nate Jones during a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, March 31, 2018. The Chicago White Sox defeated the Royals 4-3. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Don't ask Nate Jones about the veracity of rumors involving premium free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, and their potential connection to the White Sox.The longest current tenured player on Chicago's roster works under the impression of a rumor being simply a rumor until it actually
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Don't ask Nate Jones about the veracity of rumors involving premium free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, and their potential connection to the White Sox.
The longest current tenured player on Chicago's roster works under the impression of a rumor being simply a rumor until it actually happens. But the hard-throwing reliever understands what either one of these players could mean to his rebuilding franchise.
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"Those guys have earned that superstar status and they've earned it for a reason because they are really really good at what they do," Jones said standing outside the clubhouse at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday. "You get one of those guys on our team and that's exciting.
"It puts a little bump in our step, ready to do things in 2019 that people probably think we couldn't," Jones added.
Here's the interesting point about this young White Sox team. The club certainly would welcome the addition of a franchise-altering sort of talent such as Machado or Harper, but the South Siders believe in themselves even as the group was laid out on Tuesday.
That belief is a testament to the work done by general manager Rick Hahn, executive vice president Ken Williams, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and director of player development Chris Getz, to name a few, in assembling a strong youthful core while letting them grow and develop together. They also have a healthy level of confidence even coming off a 62-100 campaign in 2018.
Outfielder Nicky Delmonico officially threw out the first pitch of White Sox Spring Training with a personal Instagram post digitally adding the years 2019, '20 and '21 under the White Sox World Series champions sign out front already including 1906, 1917 and 2005. Yes, he included 2019.
"We're hungry," the always upbeat Delmonico said. "When you come off a 100-loss season, it kind of [ticks] you off. And I think we're all in the same group and the same schedule of what we want to do this year, and how we want to go about our business.
"Why not? That's why you play. Every year you've got to have a goal. And if it's not to be in the World Series, then what are you working for? We feel like we can take our division. If we stay healthy, put the things right, go out there and handle our business, I think we can go out there and compete with any team."
The addition of Machado or Harper still doesn't guarantee a championship season, let alone an extended period of championship contention. It would be another step toward reaching that stated goal, with the White Sox believing the worst is behind them and the best is to come.
"There's a lot of young guys who are going to get chances and looks," Jones said. "Everybody has heard about the prospects that are coming.
"This Spring Training, we'll see those guys again and see as a team how we've progressed in this rebuild process. That's the exciting point because we are to that point where we are going to be turning the corner, and it's going to be fun."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.