White Sox GM Rick Hahn: ‘It’s just good to have baseball back’

The White Sox are making plans for training camp and the start of the 60-game season.

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White Sox general manager Rick Hahn (left) and manager Rick Renteria.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn (left) and manager Rick Renteria.

John Antonoff/For Sun-Times

Rick Hahn feels like a lot of us do.

“It’s just good to have baseball back, man,” the White Sox general manager said Thursday.

Talking to reporters for the first time since spring training came to a halt on March 12, Hahn drummed up the good vibe surrounding the Sox and where they were in their rebuild heading into the season.

“The way that team was coming together, we were in a really good place,” he said. “It’s going to be good to see Luis Robert running around center field. It’s going to be good to seeing [Lucas] Giolito continue to build, where [Yoan] Moncada has grown to. . . . There’s only so many times I can watch that Eloy [Jimenez] home run at Wrigley last year and not wind up thirsty for more. Let’s go.”

Unless you’re among those turned off by the labor squabble between players and owners that dragged out baseball’s return after it was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic — and there are fans who say they’ll be sitting out because of it — it was good to finally talk about baseball, the plans for training camp and the 60-game schedule, which is expected to be released in about 10 days.

Does a shortened schedule favor the Sox? That’s open for debate. But there’s no arguing their pitching depth will be better with Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodon ready — or close to it — after recovering from Tommy John surgery.

“Not to mention young pitchers like [Dane] Dunning, [Jimmy] Lambert, [Jonathan] Stiever, who were sort of building their way back,” Hahn said. “Now that we’ve got ourselves down to a 60-game season and all those players are, knock on wood, without restrictions at this point from a health standpoint, you suddenly look around at this team and you see we’re in a decent position from a pitching depth standpoint.”

Manager Rick Renteria said all options are on the table for the starting rotation, including a six-man crew and openers.

“The expanded rosters early on are potentially going to allow us the opportunity to be creative in how we deploy that pitching depth,” Hahn said.

Other news from Hahn’s video conference call:

• Camp will open July 3 at Guaranteed Rate Field, with about 44 players. A taxi squad of about 16 will work out at a separate facility — to be announced probably in the next day. The taxi squad is for depth and options for the active roster and will include prospects in earlier stages of development.

• Second baseman Nick Madrigal, one of the Sox’ top prospects, wasn’t expected to break camp in March and might not be on the 30-man Opening Day roster in late July. 

“He certainly is a consideration for breaking with us, and if not immediately, then certainly helping us at some point over the course of this summer,” Hahn said.

• No Sox players or staff have tested positive for the coronavirus, including those in Arizona, although Hahn emphasized the intake for training camp hasn’t begun. Baseball is “trusting the experts, trusting science, trusting data, and following the lead of experts in the public health arenas,” Hahn said.

• If the Sox are planning to have fans at home games, at a maximum of 20 percent capacity, they aren’t saying yet.

“I have no answer to that,” Hahn said. “We’re just following the state and city lead on those.” 

It’s likely the Sox are exploring it, as the Cubs and other teams are.

• While Renteria doesn’t like the extra-inning rule of starting with a runner on second base, Hahn does in a shortened season.

“Why not experiment a little bit?” he said.

• The Sox will play intrasquad games during camp and three exhibition games at the end of camp, with the Cubs a likely and convenient opponent.

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