Rick Hahn: Fun to be back with leather, ball and bat
In an effort to keep any dirt off of the lede, we've gotta start with the rough stuff first: Michael Kopech, though rehabilitated from 2018's Tommy John surgery and counted on as a key cog on the 2020 staff, is not in Chicago.
And from the sound of it, might not be around for the season.
"Michael Kopech is not here," GM Rick Hahn said during some opening remarks after the first Summer Camp workout at Sox Park. "He is excused with permission to deal with a personal matter. There's no timeline for his return, but he is healthy.
"It's never ideal when players are dealing with off-the-field matters, but it's a reminder that these guys are human."
Cheslor Cuthbert is also tardy to camp, caught up in Nicaragua and not expected for another week.
The Kopech news did scuff up remarks filled otherwise with cautious joy from Hahn, joking and simply looking relieved to be back at the ballpark.
"We're all living through interesting and trying times," he opened. "But it was fun to be back on the field hearing leather, ball and bat. We get a little bit of normalcy in a life filled with a lot of uncertainty. Today has been a really nice day so far."
Hahn was happy with the physical shape of all players and confirmed that the White Sox will play three exhibition games before the regular season begins. To the latter point, Hahn says the White Sox will wait for the regular schedule to be released (next week) before announcing any details on such games.
As you can watch in the clip above, Hahn revealed a bit about his sheltering-in-place when I queried him on the hot-and-cold nature of offseason momentum and early spring success plopping straight into the brick wall of a pandemic.
"In baseball, you tend to lose yourself in the day-to-day of the season," he said. "That was snatched away, for reasons way bigger than baseball. While we reprioritize, we still itch to get back. There are only so many online Spanish courses or hand of Texas Hold 'Em poker I can play."
(And yes, Hahn later revealed that while he cleaned up early in family card games, son Jake researched some tips online ("probably not my finest parenting moment") and is now the family shark.
While stating some of the obvious when it comes to legislating players' private lives away from the park, Hahn provided more levity when asked if he had a "manifesto" for players about their personal safety and behavior.
"I am happy to report I haven't written any in the past three or four months."
Check out the full Rick Hahn press availability below, courtesy of the White Sox:
And here's some sights and sounds from the park, again courtesy of the White Sox. Try not to get stuck on Tim Anderson spitting and licking his fingers while playing catch: