Michael Kopech adjusting to relief role, keeps sights on starting

White Sox manager Tony La Russa: “I’m putting no limitations on him.”

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Michael Kopech throws live batting practice at White Sox spring training. (John Antonoff/For Sun-Times)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Michael Kopech will start the season in the White Sox’ bullpen. Who knows where he ends it?

Manager Tony La Russa said the Sox are keeping their options open and that his role could evolve over the course of the season.

“I think the answer has to be yes,” La Russa said. “Mostly because the season is so unpredictable. Nobody has a crystal ball. You start out with him as a starter-in-waiting and getting some experience and learning, but as the season gets on and the opportunities are there and the way he competes, we’re going to try and win, so you take your best shot, and he’s going to try to be part of that best shot. So, not putting any limitations on him.”

La Russa noted Kopech’s improvement with each bullpen and live batting-practice session, and from talks with him, he likes his mindset. Kopech and left-hander Garrett Crochet in relief for a full season are potentially huge additions to a bullpen that was good in 2020.

But Kopech, who has not pitched in two seasons and was a starter before that, must adjust to relief pitching.

“I’m trying to realize that short-time recovery is going to be a lot more important,” he said. “I’ve kind of gotten used to having four days in between starts, doing everything I needed to do in those four days and having plenty of time to recover.

 “Now I’m getting back up every couple of times. It is going to be an adjustment for me.”

Jimenez’s high ceiling

Hitting coach Frank Menechino maintains that Eloy Jimenez, who has power “from pole to pole,” as he puts it, can be a high-average hitter. Not just .296 high, like he was in 2020.

“Eloy is a gifted hitter,” Menechino said. “He has a special talent.”

Jimenez “can be a .320, .340 hitter when he [has conviction] with his approach and does what he wants to do in that at-bat, being able to take the walk and not give in.” 

Jimenez, 0-for-3 with two strikeouts Thursday against the Giants, is still finding his timing early in the spring. When he has it, Menechino says Jimenez has the ability to “control the depth” of the baseball.


“He can catch the fastball out front; he can allow it to get deep; he can control the depth of the baseball when it’s a hanging slider,” Menechino said. “He doesn’t try to hit it out front; he can let it drop and drive it to right-center.”

Reinsdorf’s sons seek stake

Michael and Jonathan Reins-dorf, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s sons, are looking to buy a non-controlling share of the Sox, a move that could strengthen the family’s collective ownership of the club, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

Terms of an offer made to the team’s investors by the sons’ group were not known.

“This is an opportunity for many of the longtime Chicago White Sox partners to monetize their investment, some of whom have been with the team for as long as 40 years,” Michael Reinsdorf told Crain’s. “Jonathan and I believe in the growth and long-term prospects of baseball and the White Sox.”

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