GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn’s excitement at the start of Friday morning’s Zoom session certainly could have been rooted in his team being one of the prime candidates to win the 2022 World Series title.
That feeling was prevalent as Hahn spoke for 30 minutes with somewhere around 10 players making their way to Camelback Ranch for a first unofficial workout. But his initial joy stemmed from baseball being back after a 99-day lockout.
“It's hard for me to properly articulate how excited we are that there's a deal in place, that we're all fully back to work and looking for ways to build upon what we feel is a very strong team,” Hahn said. “By Sunday we hope to have just about everyone in camp and ready to go. Obviously, we've just been able to reconnect with our players in the last 18 hours or so.”
Here are a few more important topics from Hahn’s in-depth session.
Adding on to success
Hahn has a World Series title target for the ’22 White Sox, the same sort of pass/fail goal he’s had for the South Siders since they became contenders.
“I don't think any of us would be doing our jobs properly -- and by that, I mean the front office, players, coaches -- if our aspirations weren't to win a championship, and feeling we need to do everything in our power to win the World Series in 2022,” Hahn said.
The White Sox enter this free agent/trade frenzy over the next month in a good position, in that they don’t need to force any deals with solid in-house options even at positions of question such as right field, second base or within the pitching staff. But that good position doesn’t mean Hahn will stop improving this team.
“We’re prepared to go forward with the roster we have right now. However, we are fully aware that there are places where we can get ourselves better, pitching staff and position player wise,” Hahn said. “Pitching concerns might be a little heavier on our mind than the position player side of things, but generally if there is a way to improve the club, we’re going to exhaust those opportunities here over the next few weeks.
“Given the fact that we weren’t able to communicate with agents and other clubs, I’m not surprised it’s been a little bit slower than anticipated at this early stage. But that also means that this is probably going to continue at this pace or continue to have these dialogues and chances to improve likely leading right up into the opener.”
Immediately to action
Hahn was asked for his first call made and whether it was to an opposing general manager or an agent on Thursday night. That question morphed into one about whether Hahn had someone in mind to call at that point.
“Yep,” said Hahn with a wry smile.
Cactus League action begins for the White Sox on March 19 at home against the Guardians, marking the first of 17 games. The regular-season opener currently is scheduled for April 8 in Detroit, meaning the White Sox will have less than one month to ramp up.
Pitching depth will be a key, especially in the early going. Getting creative with the arms, even via a six-man rotation, has been broadly discussed and some ideas have been tossed around.
“Now, again, as we understand exactly, say, where Lance Lynn or Michael Kopech or whomever it is is at in terms of their personal pacing towards the season and building towards the season, you can start talking about how viable some non-five-rotation ideas may be,” Hahn said. “Little premature, but it is something in general we've talked about.”
A look to the future
The lockout afforded Hahn, manager Tony La Russa and the White Sox big league staff a chance to get a close look at the organization’s Minor League players. That look included left-handed-hitting outfielder Oscar Colás, who joined the White Sox from the international market via a $2.7 million signing bonus.
“Glad we got him, glad we got him,” Hahn said. “Obviously he [hasn't played] everyday against competition in a while, just like some of our other Cuban emigres in recent years.
“It's going to take a little bit to get him back in game speed and ramping up the way -- and ready for everyday game action to perform at the peak of his abilities. But the tools are there. The physicality is there. The makeup is strong and I'm glad he's one of ours.”