CHICAGO -- With the third pick of the 2014 First Year Player Draft, the White Sox … still have a number of factors to consider before making their first selection Thursday night.
That first selection almost certainly will be a pitcher from the group of Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, Carlos Rodon and Aaron Nola. Any one of those players is a high-quality talent, meaning signability could become a small but still considered factor.
The White Sox have a total pool of $9,509,700, with that No. 3 pick slotted at $5,721,500. The goal for the White Sox in this Draft is to reinforce the Minor League system, not just get one top-notch player. So selecting a player who could sign over slot with that first pick could affect other selections.
"Is it a consideration? Sure. We wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't explore signability both above our number as well as below our number," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn explained. "You've seen clubs go that opposite direction where perhaps they take a guy a little higher than expected and save a little on the bonus for that specific slot and reallocate it throughout the rest of the draft.
"It's certainly an interesting and sound strategy and one we need to discuss. But ultimately, I think it will come down to taking the player that we feel fits the best. We want to get the best guy available at No. 3, but we also want to have the healthiest draft through the entire bonus pool."
White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann believes the best player/best fit available remains the White Sox focus.
"We're very confident that we're going to take whoever we feel like has the highest ceiling," said Laumann on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field. "Now, all things being equal if two guys are really, really close and one guy might afford you the ability to save a million, million and a half that you can spread later in the draft, you might. But initially we're just looking at the best guy out there."
Semien optioned to Charlotte to clear spot for Abreu
CHICAGO -- Marcus Semien was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte following the White Sox 4-1 victory Sunday over the Padres. The move was made to make room for Jose Abreu, who will be activated from the disabled list prior to Monday's series opener in Los Angeles.
Semien, 23, did pretty much everything asked of him during his stint to open the season with the White Sox. He played 24 games at third base, 17 at second and one at shortstop -- not to mention all three of Semien's homers gave the White Sox a lead in the seventh inning or later.
With playing time reduced on the infield, Semien having no experience playing the outfield as Leury Garcia does and Semien having options remaining, his move made the most sense as he will get more regular playing time with the Knights. Semien found out the news postgame, but still handled the change with a professional attitude and the same sort of workmanlike focus.
"I never complain playing this game. A lot of stuff can happen. I'll be ready to work in Charlotte," said Semien, who has 28 at-bats since May 7. "I know I did some good things. I also have some things to work on.
"You always have stuff to work on in this game. It's never going to be an easy game. You never have it figured out. I realize that and I'm glad I have the right work ethic and I work hard everywhere I'm at. I'll try to make the most of this new opportunity."
In 43 games overall, Semien hit .218 with 22 runs scored and 18 RBIs.
Abreu off the DL, to face Kershaw
CHICAGO -- Jose Abreu was activated from the disabled list prior to the White Sox series opener Monday at Dodger Stadium.
The first baseman and galvanizing force in the middle of the White Sox lineup gets to test the inflammation in his left ankle against none other than two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw. But after going through a second simulated game Sunday morning and looking crisper at the plate and running the bases, Abreu seems ready to go.
"I'm anxious to get started," said Abreu through interpreter and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "There's really no limitations."
"Coming back against Clayton Kershaw is probably not ideal in terms of shaking off that rust," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn of Abreu. "But after talking it over with him and Robin and the coaches, it makes most sense to get going tomorrow."
Abreu last played on May 17 in Houston, when manager Robin Ventura pinch-hit for him because he didn't look right in a previous at-bat. Even with that length of absence, the White Sox didn't feel the need to send him on a Minor League rehab assignment.
Hahn pointed out that an assignment would have cost Abreu a couple of travel days and would have interrupted the treatment he was receiving from White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider. They also wanted to cut down the travel with the White Sox leaving Sunday night for the West Coast and the risk of any additional swelling from the flying.
Instead, the White Sox brought up two right-handed Minor League pitchers and two left-handed Minor League pitchers from extended spring training to throw to Abreu in simulated games.
"Part of the reason we brought the kids up for sim games here was so that he would face live action essentially and best we could simulate a game in terms of pitchers letting it go from 60 feet, 6 inches," Hahn said. "It would have worked out either way. This seemed more convenient for the player, especially with us going to the West Coast immediately after this. Again, there's going to be a little rust, but it has only been a couple of weeks and he should be able to shake it off pretty quick."
Abreu has 15 homers, 42 RBIs and a .908 on-base plus slugging in his rookie season. He's prepared to assume his spot in the middle of the lineup, but doesn't feel extra pressure to do too much because of the team's recent offensive struggles -- a .215 average with 15 runs scored over the last six games.
"Unfortunately the last couple of days our offense has been down, but that's part of baseball," Abreu said. "You have ups and downs. You're going to go through those, whether I'm here or not, they can do it. It's a team. I don't feel pressure that I have to come in and do anything different."
Balancing present, future remains Hahn's focus
CHICAGO -- The White Sox have been a better team through the first two months of the 2014 season than most people expected. They have hovered around .500, despite countless injuries, and have stayed in contention in the American League Central and for a Wild Card spot -- albeit only at the 58-game mark.
General manager Rick Hahn has stated numerous times before that the team won't make moves to get one playoff berth while hurting the overall plan of sustained excellence for years to come. Hahn reiterated that point prior to Sunday's series finale with the Padres.
"As we've seen in the first two months, a lot can happen and a lot of plans can change," Hahn said. "You lose your right fielder [Avisail Garcia] and that alters how you have to behave. First and fundamentally, hopefully the baseball gods smile on us a little bit more over the next two months than they did over the last two months, which will impact our decision making.
"Second and sort of broader, the opportunities to win are sacred. If we are in a position where we feel we have a real chance to win, we will address whatever needs we feel exist at that time to enhance those chances. At the same time, we are not going to do anything that's going to compromise our longer term goals that we've talked about for about a year in terms of putting us in a position where we can win on an annual basis.
"We don't want to jump up and make one playoff appearance and then drift back away for the next several years," Hahn said. "We want to be in position to contend annually."
Hahn added that there are some areas of depth right now in the organization where it's conceivable that they can address needs for 2014 and still "not compromise our ability to compete going forward."
"But it's going to be a little bit of a balancing act conceivably," Hahn said. "We still have a little bit of time to get more information about this club and our competitors and the viability of winning this year."
Eaton stays confident through White Sox ups, downs
CHICAGO -- On Wednesday night, following a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians, Adam Eaton heard general talk from the media as to how the White Sox were getting on a bit of a roll. On Sunday, Eaton stood at his locker pregame and listened as to how his team looked a bit out of sync with the offense struggling the last two days despite decent enough pitching to win.
Eaton wasn't about to panic over those two poor games, just as he's not a believer in holiday markers on the schedule as checkpoints for a season. He simply is focused on what he has learned about the team from the season's first two months.
"We're a good team that can compete with anybody. If we don't believe that, we have no business being in the locker room," Eaton said. "We can compete with anybody on the mound, in the batter's box, getting the job done day in and day out.
"With the guys we have in here, and when we get Abreu back, we'll be even more competitive. But I'm happy with the progress of the team and going forward we're going to continue to get better. We're a young team and I think we learn something every day when we're out there."
Third to first
• Nate Jones is still in the expected stage of getting functional as a person before moving into baseball activities following a microdiscectomy performed on his back. But Jones is making definite progress.
"He's had a good week and progressing and at this point he's not ready for baseball activities," Hahn said. "But hopefully that occurs in the original time frame, which is in the next few weeks."
• Conor Gillaspie has hit safely in 32 of his 36 games this season entering Sunday. Alexei Ramirez has hit safely in 46 of 57 White Sox games entering Sunday.