7/13/2014 1:40 P.M. ET
Abreu caps inaugural first half for the record books
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The first half of Jose Abreu's first Major League Baseball season couldn't have possibly gone much better, aside from the 14 games he lost to a left ankle injury.
• With his 29th homer coming Saturday, Abreu reached 50 career extra-base hits in the second fewest games ever. Abreu got there in 81 games, while Ted Williams hit that target in 80 games in 1939, per Elias.
• Abreu's 29 homers entering Sunday were the third most before the All-Star break in franchise history behind Frank Thomas (32, 1994) and Jim Thome (30, 2006).
• The eight home runs Abreu has hit in the first-inning leave him in a tie with Jose Bautista for long balls in that particular frame.
Simply put, the man on pace to equal Albert Belle's single-season franchise home run record of 49 and Mark McGwire's single-season rookie mark of the same total has changed the White Sox offense.
"Jose brings a lot as far as just an offense that's different then we were last year," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his All-Star first baseman. "You still feel like you are able to score at any point in the game. Last year, if we fell behind, there wasn't necessarily the means to catch back up and score some runs."
Since coming back from the disabled list, Abreu has hit .313 with 14 homers and 31 RBIs. That .313 stretch raised his average to .287 entering Sunday, while giving thought to Abreu possibly pushing toward .300 in his first year. But White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson doesn't want to put such a tough label on the rookie.
"There's a lot that goes on with being a .300 hitter," Steverson said. "I really can't answer that to the degree of a number or a ceiling for him. If he does, good for him. It means he's taking quality at-bats and helping the team. To strap something like that on him, it's a little premature.
"He isn't an 18-year-old player. He's played in competition and he's got a routine and he's got some games underneath him and he has an idea of who he is at this age, and that's good for him. He has good self awareness of who he is."
Hahn: Making trades requires big-picture vision
CLEVELAND -- Making a beneficial trade is an exercise that runs far deeper than simply finding a team to work with and getting the best possible return for the player being asked about. It becomes a balancing act, weighing the cost of giving up said player vs. the talent and fit coming back.
Take Alexei Ramirez's situation, for example. There will be great interest in the White Sox shortstop as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, with the All-Star under contract at $10 million for 2015 and with a $10 million club option for '16.
Moving Ramirez probably would bring back the greatest talent of the veterans the White Sox potentially have available. But the White Sox also don't necessarily have a shortstop waiting to take over behind the veteran, although Carlos Sanchez could get a look depending on Ramirez's back.
"That's a big part of it. It's not just Player X or Player Y," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told MLB.com. "It's if you move Player X, who steps into that spot and what kind of production are you going to get out of that guy in the current season, but going forward?
"It's important that we at least have a sense of the value of all of our players just so we know: is there an opportunity to improve ourselves as a whole by moving somebody? Is the market value such that the benefit outweighs the cost of giving up the player?"
Conversations such as these happen quite a bit during this time of year, as well as around the Winter Meetings. And just because interest in a player might even leak out, "it doesn't mean there's anything brewing," per Hahn.
"It might be assessing that player's value," Hahn said. "Ultimately when you make that decision with any trade, it's a balancing act between what you are removing, the detriment to the current club or your plans going forward, vs. what's coming in the door.
"Sometimes you are in a position where what's coming in the door is in the future, and that makes it a little more difficult for the current club to swallow and a little more difficult to accurately project the long-term benefit. It is a balancing act and it's obviously one we take quite seriously in terms of not wanting to compromise our ability to win, but at the same time making sure of maximizing those opportunities annually going forward."
White Sox summon prospect Sanchez for finale
CLEVELAND -- Maybe too much was expected of Carlos Sanchez as the youngest player in the International League during the 2013 season at 21 years old. Sanchez, who is currently the 10th-best White Sox prospect per MLB.com, hit just .241 in his first full year with Triple-A Charlotte after being discussed prior to that same Spring Training as having an outside shot to break camp with the team.
But what a difference a season makes.
Sanchez, now at the ripe old age of 22, was called up from Charlotte on Sunday and put into the starting lineup at shortstop for the final game of the first half. Sanchez serves as an insurance policy for Alexei Ramirez's balky back, which knocked him out of the game in the fourth inning of Saturday's victory.
In 351 at-bats this season for Charlotte, Sanchez was hitting .291 with 13 doubles, six triples, five homers, 42 RBIs and 48 runs scored. That extra bit of maturity has made a difference, starting back in winter ball for the Venezuelan native.
"I worked a lot on my hitting, my offensive skills," said Sanchez through interpreter and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "I needed to make some adjustments offensively, and that's what I've been working on very hard since winter ball with my hitting coaches. And thankfully, things have worked out.
"I'm feeling pretty good right now offensively. Definitely, the experience just of knowing and preparing yourself for who you're facing helps. That's what I've been doing this year, and I've continued to improve in that area."
Ventura doesn't believe Ramirez's injury is anything serious, so Sanchez could be gone after just one game.
Third to first
• Avisail Garcia will continue his shoulder rehab work in Chicago over the All-Star break.
• The White Sox entered Sunday leading the Majors with 59 runs scored in the ninth inning. Arizona was second with 50.
• Reliever Daniel Webb has been working with bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen on repeating his delivery.
"It's throwing a pitch and knowing what I did on a bad pitch," said Webb of the work. "Feeling it, that I have to fix that right away and not let it keep going."