For the Chicago White Sox, this year has been a culmination of a five-yearlong rebuild that saw dozens of strategic trades, draft choices and free agent signings.
Chief architect of that rebuild and current White Sox roster general manager Rick Hahn is hopeful that with this year’s roster, they’ll be able to make noise deep into the postseason.
“This year we’re on the precipice of something fairly special,” Hahn said. “From a health standpoint, we’re very optimistic about where our players are at and we do this as a start of potentially nice, extended start of White Sox baseball where we make this an annual appearance.”
Tony La Russa, 77, was hired as a manager for the Sox last year, and this is the first time he’s been managing since 2011.
“The way we’ve been able to overcome a fair amount of adversity over the course of this season and find ourselves positioned here on the doorstep of the postseason in a very strong position is in large part a testimony to Tony and the coaching staff and what they’ve been able to do from an environmental standpoint,” Hahn said.
The Sox are now mostly healthy and “in a position to compete” after an injury-plagued season, according to Hahn.
“Unfortunately, [there were] a lot of soft tissue injuries throughout baseball this year,” Hahn said. “There was some speculation it was related to going from 60 games back to 162 but so many of ours happened early in the season that really fatigue or increased workload probably shouldn’t have factored into that.”
He added that they’re remaining optimistic about pitcher Carlos Rodón, who has been battling shoulder fatigue and soreness.
“Our pitching staff has been very creative in terms of getting him through the finish line and now over the next few days hopefully we’ll be able to put him in a good position to compete against Houston come next week,” Hahn said.
The Sox recently clinched the American League Central Title for the first time since 2008. This is the first time in franchise history that the White Sox are going to the playoffs for the second year in a row and healthy for the first time in a long time.
“I think we’ve had our projected top six in our lineup together less than a dozen times [this season],” Hahn said. “When we’re all together and it’s the way we’ve anticipated this thing from an offensive standpoint when we drew it up, we’re a pretty tough unit to deal with.”
The Houston Astros will be hosting the Sox in the first-round matchup scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday.
“They are a dynamic offense, veterans throughout who have been to October and who have been to the mountaintop,” Hahn said of the Astros. “A strong pitching staff especially in the starting rotation and a solid defense...we knew no matter who we faced this month we were going to be challenged.”