White Sox

White Sox preach accountability as losing streak comes to an end


White Sox preach accountability as losing streak comes to an end

Though they didn’t completely rid themselves of the horrendous play that plagued their road trip, the White Sox made progress on Tuesday night.

Two days removed from a five-game trip Rick Hahn said was full of “stupid” and “poor” decisions, the White Sox brought forth some of the missing elements in a 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field. Jeff Samardzija delivered the goods and Conor Gillaspie capped a four-run rally with a two-run triple as the White Sox snapped a five-game losing streak. For at least one game the White Sox — who have preached accountability across the board amid calls for the firing of manager Robin Ventura — showed they’re capable of playing as well as everyone within the walls at 35th and Shields thinks they can.

“This team is far, far better than what we’ve seen the last few days,” Hahn said. “Obviously we shot ourselves in the foot with some stupid base running decisions, there was some poor defensive decisions.

“Our problems right now are amplified by the fact that we’re not scoring runs. This is a lineup that is able to score runs over the long haul. This is a starting rotation that is going to not have however many starters we have with ERAs over 5 over the long haul.”

Though it’s not likely to restore the faith of fans who have continued to call for Ventura’s head, Samardzija at least provided the White Sox with a breather.

[MORE: Source: Samardzija to begin serving suspension Wednesday]

Samardzija did what four starters couldn’t in the last turn through the rotation — keep the White Sox in the game.

Tuesday’s effort looked to be headed in that direction, too.

With the help of a first-inning error and a solo homer that bounced off Melky Cabrera’s glove over the fence (it would have been a stunning catch), Samardzija gave up two runs.

But Samardzija didn’t give up any more runs and pitched out of critical jams in the fifth and seventh innings. He allowed two earned runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings.

In his previous start, Samardzija allowed eight earned runs as he and White Sox starters went 0-5 with a 10.39 ERA in 21 2/3 innings on the road trip.

[RELATED: White Sox RHP Matt Albers has surgery, out 6-8 weeks]

“Everybody’s frustrated,” Ventura said. “We’re frustrated too. You understand that, but in the end we gotta focus on what we’re doing right here, and I get it. I’m frustrated. You understand where people lash out and why they do it. Again, that doesn’t stop what we’re trying to do here and the focus on playing the Tigers.

I’m not sitting here thinking of my own situation with that. We’re trying to win a game tonight. That becomes the focus.”

An offense that was outscored 39-10 in Baltimore and Minneapolis also showed a pulse. The White Sox displayed patience at the plate against Detroit’s Shane Greene, drawing four walks and knocking him out after 2 2/3 innings.

Trailing by one, Jose Abreu singled in a first-inning run to tie the score. Two innings later, Adam LaRoche tied it with a bases-loaded walk, Avisail Garcia had an RBI fielder’s choice and Gillaspie had a two-run triple to give the White Sox a 5-2 lead. Adam Eaton, who doubled to start the game, said Ventura’s steady presence is critical if the White Sox are to rebound.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“He's the type of manager you need in the clubhouse, a cool-headed manager that doesn't come in here after every loss and preach to us about how we should have done stuff,” Eaton said. “But when something needs to be said he says it. It sucks that he gets heat from wherever it may come from, but realistically it's us. We need to perform and perform for him. It's going to come sooner or later.”

The White Sox aren’t naïve enough to think one game is the elixir for their issues. They’ve been far too sloppy on the bases — Eaton probably should have tripled in the first — and they made three more errors. Aside from a bullpen that delivered two more scoreless innings, the White Sox clearly have been pressing throughout the roster. But Hahn and Ventura believe as long as the team is accountable, the ship can be righted. After all, prior to their hellish trip, the White Sox were coming off their best games of the season.

“I certainly am pleased with how our team has responded,” Hahn said. “To hear our players stand up over the last few days and say ‘Look, this is on us, we need to start performing better’ I think is a great first step to getting this thing right. … In times of adversity I think it’s more important for us to pull together and reinforce what we’re doing as a unit than to say anything specific about any individual.

“We’re in this together and the accountability is shared by all of us.”

Rick Renteria isn't going to change his 'don't quit' ways for anyone, 'Johnny Hustle' included

Rick Renteria isn't going to change his 'don't quit' ways for anyone, 'Johnny Hustle' included

LAS VEGAS — Manny Machado isn’t going to be Johnny Hustle, he told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal during the postseason. But if he gets $300 million to play baseball on the South Side of Chicago, will he reevaluate that stance on busting it down the line?

Because if he doesn’t, his new manager might do it for him.

One of the mighty interesting side stories to the White Sox aggressiveness this winter and their reported interest in Machado and Bryce Harper, the two biggest names on the free-agent market, is how Machado and his comments about distaste for hustling would mesh with Rick Renteria’s “don’t quit” culture on the South Side.

It’s all speculative, of course, because Machado does not, as of this writing, play for the White Sox. But as they potentially rev up to hand out one of the biggest contracts in baseball history, it’s worth wondering what would happen if Machado does what he did during the NLCS, when he failed to run out a ground ball against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Renteria made a habit of benching anyone and everyone who committed that cardinal sin during the 2018 season, be they a young player still learning how to be a big leaguer like Tim Anderson or an established veteran like Welington Castillo, a free-agent import in his own right. Heck, Renteria even benched Avisail Garcia, the team’s lone All Star from the 2017 season, during a spring training game.

Well, refusing to beat around the bush during his Tuesday media session at the Winter Meetings, Renteria said he’s going to keep being him and that any player signing up with the White Sox rebuilding effort will know what to expect.

“We've been ingraining this now for two years. And we've taken some steps where we'll pull a guy,” Renteria said. “But it has nothing to do with trying to embarrass them. It has everything to do with trying to set a particular standard of play or effort level.

“And there are going to be situations in which I might have to have conversations with guys that are coming from the outside. But I will venture to say this, I've said it enough publicly, they know how we want to play the game here. I think anybody who is thinking or contemplating becoming a White Sox, that we go about it a certain way.”

As much attention as Machado’s comments about hustling not being his “cup of tea” have received, they weren’t expected to impact his free agency in some super dramatic way. Meaning, he’s such a good baseball player, that the excerpt from a public-relations professional’s nightmare probably was going to pale in comparison to the numbers he just posted during a career year: a .297/.367/.538 slash line with 37 home runs and 107 RBIs. He’s a four-time All Star and a two-time Gold Glover, and he’s finished in the top 10 in AL MVP voting three times.

Machado has an incredible track record of production. But he also has a track record of not looking like the model baseball player. In addition to these comments about effort, he got called dirty by the Brewers for dragging his foot across the leg of first baseman Jesus Aguilar during the NLCS, he's thrown a bat and a helmet on the field in separate incidents of anger, and he injured Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia with a spikes-up slide.

And so Renteria admitted he would have a managing job ahead of him. Machado isn't a wide-eyed youngster who came up through the White Sox farm system. He's a major league veteran with an entire different background in the game.

"I think that it's a learned attitude, so to speak," he said. "When players get to the big leagues, in my humble opinion and in my experience, you take care of all of those issues in the minor leagues, period. It's a philosophy that you have as an organization. Every organization is different. So when they get to us, what they do has already been taught. So I don't have to deal with any of that.

"It's a little more difficult at the major league level to change an attitude of an individual if they've been doing that their whole life, if they're not giving you the effort all the time, absolutely. But it requires conversation. That person is that person. My job is to get the most out of that individual to the best of my ability.

"Will I be able to do that 100 percent? Probably not. But I'm going to give it a shot. But I've got to be creative and find ways to communicate with the players."

Machado's comments might have created a postseason and offseason firestorm — there are a lot of Twitter-using White Sox fans who went from all aboard the Machado train to wanting no part of him — but it's also not difficult to see him putting this behind him with excellent play no matter where he ends up. Adam Jones, who played with Machado in Baltimore, told our Chuck Garfien on Tuesday that Machado "plays the game hard and the right way." Machado attempted his own mea culpa earlier this winter, but those comments from a former teammate mean a little bit more.

It's very possible that if the White Sox are the ones to give Machado his big contract that he runs every batted ball out for the next decade.

But in the hypothetical situation that he doesn't, Renteria doesn't plan to shy away from doing what he does because Machado is a $300 million man. As long as he has the backing of his bosses — and he believes he will — he's going to keep sitting guys if they don't play the way he believes the White Sox should play.

"Everybody has to be comfortable with me making and taking an action like that," he said. "And when I do, I think we'll be backed."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Favorites or not, White Sox will still make their pitch to Bryce Harper and Manny Machado

Favorites or not, White Sox will still make their pitch to Bryce Harper and Manny Machado

LAS VEGAS — The words coming from White Sox brass at these Winter Meetings show an aggressiveness in pursuing the biggest names in the game and a confidence that the rebuilding process is moving toward an incredibly bright future.

But reports from some of the national writers who break all kinds of news during this kind of event show something different.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal wrote about the White Sox on Tuesday, reporting that team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has given his front office the green light to pursue Harper and Machado, who are expected to receive a couple of the biggest contracts in baseball history, even though he has doubts about winning a bidding war. Then came a tweet from USA Today's Bob Nightengale on Wednesday, indicating that the South Siders are set to meet with the two big-name free agents, even though they don't see themselves as the favorites.

Humility is always good, but it's a stark contrast between those couple bits of reporting and the description of the White Sox and their aggressive winter to this point.

That being said, both pieces of information include the fact that the White Sox are still going to make their pitch to these guys and try to get them to play 81 (and eventually more) home games a year on the South Side.

It's already been reported that Hall of Famer Jim Thome came on board to help the White Sox pitch Harper, and the White Sox were reported to have a meeting with Machado soon, though whether that's here in Vegas or back in Chicago remains unclear, as Machado was reportedly going to take his free-agent tour to teams in their home cities.

The White Sox will be in the room with these guys, pitching them on why an impact talent like themselves should sign up with a team that lost 100 games last season. Certainly the metaphorical dump truck full of money will have an awful lot to do with it, and the team's virtual lack of any long-term financial commitments has made them seem such a realistic option to so many in the know. The White Sox sure seem willing to offer that kind of monstrous contract. They'd have to be, otherwise there'd be little point in an aggressive pursuit.

But their pitch will likely be focused on something else.

"It's the future. The talent we have," manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday when asked what the White Sox biggest selling point to free agents is. "We've got some really good-looking young players that are not far from being here and impacting us and helping us hopefully do what we're searching to do, which is win ballgames."

Hahn thinks that's a winning pitch, too. The chance to do something special from the ground up, to join a rebuilding team, buy into the future, watch the minor league talent ascend around you and then win a bunch of championships. That's what the White Sox will say to Harper and Machado.

Will it work?

The Philadelphia Phillies have vowed to "spend stupid," perhaps the reason they're the favorites to land Harper and one of the favorites to sign Machado. The New York Yankees can sell Machado (they took themselves out of the Harper running, it seems) on joining a 100-win team and being a part of the next Bronx dynasty. The Los Angeles Dodgers always seem willing to spend a huge chunk of change and are reportedly trying to make some moves that would clear room in their crowded outfield, perhaps for Harper.

That's tough competition. The Dodgers have been to back-to-back World Series, the Yankees had the third best record in baseball last season, and the Phillies made big strides in their rebuilding effort. It's hard play at that table with mere plans for the future.

But, as mentioned, the White Sox seem confident in their pitch, and they'll get to make it. The good news is their future does not dim at all if they don't hit on Harper or Machado. But getting one of those guys would certainly make it neon bright.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.