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Retooled White Sox hope for quick turnaround

The SportsXchange

GLENDALE, Ariz -- Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn's hands were full after last season's complete failure of a 99-loss campaign. Not exactly how Hahn wanted his debut in his new position to go.

So the repair job actually started last season when the White Sox sent out assets like Jake Peavy, Matt Thornton and Alex Rios, and continued into the winter, with Hahn signing Cuban free agent first baseman Jose Abreu, as well as adding center fielder Adam Eaton, third baseman Matt Davidson, catcher Adrian Nieto, right-handed starter Felipe Paulino, right-handed relievers Ronald Belisario and Mitchell Boggs and lefty reliever Scott Downs.

They hired new hitting coach Todd Steverson, flipped a lot of the lineup, and got younger all at the same time.

"We feel we have the ability to contend," Hahn said heading into spring camp. "But the most important thing for us is to allow these young guys some room to grow, to allow the new hitting philosophy (Oakland Athletics system guy) Todd Steverson is putting in place a chance to flourish and see what we envision in terms of a young core of the next generation of White Sox players starting to coalesce, come together and grow toward a sustained run of championship success."

That doesn't mean Hahn was 100 percent satisfied, as he also insisted that there were "two or three moves that we didn't get done."

It starts with the catching position.

Nieto was acquired in the Rule 5 Draft from the Washington Nationals, and will compete with both Tyler Flowers and Josh Phegley. But since the Sox allowed veteran A.J. Pierzynski to walk into free agency last offseason, there has been a huge hole that needs to be filled behind the plate.

Hahn also shipped out closer Addison Reed in acquiring Davidson, with the logic behind the move being an everyday third baseman had more value than a situational reliever. That means that right-hander Nate Jones will get the first opportunity to be the new closer, with veteran righty Matt Lindstrom also a candidate.

"You have to be mentally tough; you have to grind it out," Jones said of getting that opportunity. "If something happens the night before, you have to forget that pretty quickly because you will be out there the next night doing the same thing. I feel I have the capability to do that."

Left-hander Chris Sale will remain the ace of the staff, followed by lefties Jose Quintana and John Danks. The fourth and fifth spot will be up for grabs in camp, however, with young right-hander Erik Johnson looking to build on his 3-2 record and 3.25 ERA in his five starts late last season, and Paulino a possible veteran presence.

The 2014 Sox are filled with what ifs, but as bad as things were in '13, the thought was it could not get any worse.
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