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White Sox’ sinking ship may turn Alex Rios into trade chip

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Updated: July 9, 2013 6:23AM

Not long after coming to the White Sox from the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009, Alex Rios took a liking to classical music. So captivated was he by Beethoven, Bach and
Mozart that he wants to learn how to play the piano.

Rios is taking baby steps on a keyboard but has bigger things in mind down the road, such as a baby grand.

‘‘If I get good at it,’’ he said. ‘‘I
enjoy music. It keeps your mind sharp and keeps your mind busy.’’

If you’re Sox general manager Rick Hahn and your team is sitting in last place in the American League Central, as it was after a 4-3 loss Friday to the Oakland Athletics at U.S. Cellular Field, your mind will shift from the draft this week to potential trades to rebuild or
reshape the roster. And now that right-hander Jake Peavy has
removed himself as trade bait by getting hurt, Rios might be the most valuable trading chip.

Any team in need of an outfielder would be foolish not to consider Rios, 32, who will make $12.5 million in 2014, a figure worth what he is producing. His contract, which allows him to block trades to six teams, features a $13.5 million team option for 2015.

In Rios words, six ‘‘is not enough.’’

‘‘I wouldn’t like the idea of getting traded,’’ he said Friday. ‘‘This is a place I really like. I like the whole city vibe and the team.’’

Rios, though, also can understand why Peavy would be OK with being traded to a contender.

‘‘Our mind-set as baseball players is very competitive,’’ Rios said. ‘‘We want to win and achieve the ultimate goal and go to the playoffs and feel the emotion of playing that level of baseball.

‘‘Some people might want to do it sooner than later, but I could wait. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to win; it means I would love to do it here. But you never know what can happen. It would be nice to be on a team that has a chance to get there.

‘‘This is a great bunch of guys who’ve been together for a long time, so it will be difficult if they start making moves. Hopefully we turn it around and start winning games, so we can keep this group together.’’

The loss Friday was a stinger. Ace Chris Sale gave up one big hit, a grand slam to Josh Donaldson in the sixth inning. After the Sox blew a good scoring opportunity in the eighth, Conor Gillaspie was robbed of a tying home run by right fielder Josh Reddick in the ninth.

‘‘It’s tough,’’ Rios said. ‘‘It’s tough for those on the business side of it, and it’s tough for the players. It’s so unfortunate that this is happening.’’

As he spoke, Rios rolled a
Cuban cigar around with his fingers. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez had handed each player a pregame stogie in hopes of changing the Sox’ luck, but it didn’t prevent their 10th loss in their last 11 games.

‘‘Chicago has a lot of things,’’ Rios said. ‘‘I’m a big fan of architecture. I love the whole city. The arts. The whole package. When you’re comfortable in a place, it’s tough to leave.’’

In other words, it would be nice to play that piano in Chicago.

‘‘I know it will take me awhile because I want to learn it the right way,’’ Rios said. ‘‘I want to learn music theory. I want to learn everything before I start. I want to take every step to do it right.’’

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