Whether it’s in the form of Brett Lawrie hollering in the dugout or Melky Cabrera leading postgame dance parties, the White Sox feel like their clubhouse chemistry is already in a good place.
Good chemistry, of course, doesn’t guarantee on-field success. But for a sport that has a 162-game regular season, having that positive vibe is one of those nebulously-important things to the 25 guys in a clubhouse.
The White Sox didn’t have a clubhouse vibe during 2015’s disappointing summer, but it did take a while for the different personalities on the team to gel together. Just four games into the 2016 season, one of this year’s new acquisitions feels like the group he joined has already developed a certain cohesion.
“We have a lot of new guys here and sometimes it takes a while for everybody to blend in,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “That first week, everybody kinda saw Brett Lawrie get the energy, get crazy, everybody loves it. We’re focused on Chris Sale dominating. We just got guys that fit in with each other from all different walks of life and natural abilities that they have.”
Chemistry isn’t necessary to winning, but Frazier said not having it can make it more difficult for a team to pull out of an early rut. The White Sox started off last season 0-3 and, outside of a late-July run, never seemed to dig themselves out of that hole.
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Frazier offered an example of the effects of good chemistry: Players see Jimmy Rollins, a 17-year major league veteran, taking extra infield work and can be motivated to get better because of it.
Outfielder Adam Eaton, who’s been here for the flat showings of 2014 and 2015, agreed, noting that the gelling of this group came quickly after arriving in Arizona for spring training.
“Guys are all pulling in the same direction,” Eaton said. “We haven’t had that in the last couple of years. It’s a good feel.”
Entering Friday’s home opener against the Cleveland Indians, the White Sox had played 2 percent of their 2016 schedule. And winning three of four games against the Oakland Athletics certainly helps keep the clubhouse atmosphere an enjoyable, supportive one.
Whether that means anything for the team’s success throughout the season remains to be seen. But for now, it’s a nice start — certainly better than last year’s.
“You have to win to be able to do it,” manager Robin Ventura said. “But you’re talking about guys who have been around a little bit and there’s different pieces that go with it. This seems to be a group that respects each other and enjoys being around each other but they can also play and that’s the biggest thing.
“It’s always hard to put your thumb on it exactly how it happens, where it happens, when it happens. I think that was identified pretty early with these guys.”