White Sox

White Sox record that 'one' much needed win against Tigers

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White Sox record that 'one' much needed win against Tigers

Their losing streak was at five games but it had been nine days since the White Sox left the ballpark feeling good.

And while they know Tuesday night’s 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers was full of mistakes they must fix, the White Sox can live with that reality given the end result. For after they endured an almost indescribable week of hardships, some out of their control but the majority of their own doing, the White Sox felt their first positive feeling since they beat the Kansas City Royals twice on April 26.

“Wins always feel pretty good, but there’s certain times when you just need one and this would definitely qualify as one of those times,” said designated hitter Adam LaRoche. “We’ve had the situation in Baltimore, a bunch of off days there and then we got a bunch of guys sick and nothing really coming together. It seemed like everything was falling apart, so it was nice.”

[MORE: White Sox preach accountability as losing streak comes to an end]

When they left Chicago on April 26, the White Sox had played their best baseball of the season against the Royals. The defense looked sharp and the pitching was strong enough to take two of three from the defending American League champions.

But everything quickly went downhill.

Monday’s riots left the team hidden inside their hotel for two days except for a Tuesday workout. They followed that up with a resounding loss to the Baltimore Orioles in the most surreal setting for a game in major league history and then were hit hard by flu-like symptoms that were bad enough to send Adam Eaton home two days early.

On the field, the team’s starting pitching went in the tank, as did it’s offense, and the defense and base running were atrocious. But during a team meeting Tuesday, one shortstop Alexei Ramirez said through an interpreter wasn’t out of the norm, players and coaches stressed that “the past was the past” and they needed to focus on the Detroit Tigers.

Jeff Samardzija helped stop the White Sox woes with seven strong innings, pitching around three errors.

“That was a terrible road trip for us, we weren’t happy with the way it went,” Samardzija said. “It wasn’t the most normal road trip in the world with what happened in Baltimore and everything. So we just needed to regroup and understand that we have a great team here and we just need to go out and do what we do. We came out and played a strong game and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Ramirez said the White Sox have to keep the focus. There’s no question much more is needed if the White Sox are to get back on track after a 9-14 start. The defense has been shaky, players have made poor decisions defensively and on the bases and the offense hasn’t put together a consistent run to date.

“There's definitely some things in there we don't like seeing,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You have to be able to clean it up to win consistently. That's never going to change.”

But for now, they’ll take what they’ve been given and build from there. Hard as it is to say any team is desperate for a victory only 23 games into the season, this may have been as close as it gets.

“Some of those wins, it doesn’t save your season, but it can definitely boost just that team confidence and morale,” LaRoche said. “Come out tomorrow feeling a little bit better. You come back and you’ve lost four or five games in a row and it sucks, it’s depressing. This is nice.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

Manny Machado to the White Sox?? It's been the dream for many White Sox fans for months.

With Machado in town to the play the White Sox, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss the White Sox chances of signing the soon-to-be-free agent.

Garfien also talks with Nicky Delmonico who played with Machado and fellow free agent to be Bryce Harper on the U.S.A. 18-under national team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

One thing you better do if you play for Rick Renteria is run to first base.

Yet again, Renteria benched one of his players Monday for the sin of not hustling down the line.

Welington Castillo, a veteran, not a developing player in need of ample “learning experiences,” popped up to first base with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning of Monday’s eventual 3-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He did not run down to first, instead staying at home plate.

So when the inning ended and the White Sox took the field, Castillo stayed in the dugout.

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, or so the slogan goes. But what happens when a player doesn’t live up to that mantra? What happens when they don’t play their absolute hardest for all 27 outs, as the T-shirts preach? This is what happens. A benching.

“It was towering fly ball in the infield at first, probably had 15, 20 seconds of hangtime,” Renteria explained after the game. “I assumed the dropped ball. It has occurred. He could, at minimum, at least start moving that way.

“That’s uncharacteristic of him, to be honest, it truly is. Maybe he was just frustrated in that he had the fly ball and just stayed at the plate, but there was no movement toward first at all. And you guys have heard me talk to all the guys about at least giving an opportunity to move in that particular direction.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, 99 out of (100) times he’s going to catch that ball.’ And then that one time that he doesn’t, what would I do if the ball had been dropped? Would it have made it easier to pull him? Well, it was just as easy because you expect not the best, but the worst.

“That is uncharacteristic of that young man. I had a quick conversation with him on the bench, and he knew and that was it.”

It might seem a little overdramatic, a little nutty, even, to sit down a veteran catcher brought in this offseason to provide some offense and to do it in a one-run game. But this rebuild is about more than just waiting around for the minor league talent to make its way to the South Side. It’s about developing an organizational culture, too. And Renteria feels that if he lets this kind of thing slide at the big league level, that won’t send the right message to those precious prospects who will one day fill out this lineup.

“There’s one way to do it, you get your action, you start moving toward that direction in which you’ve got to go,” Renteria said. “What would’ve happened if everybody’s watching it — and I’m setting the tone for not only here, our club, (but also for) everybody in the minor leagues — and they’re saying, ‘Well, at the top, they said they’re going to do this and then they don’t do it.’

“It’s really simple. And people might like it, not like it. I’ve got to do this, do that so everybody understands what we’re trying to do here. We’re not done with what we’re trying to do.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2018. Avisail Garcia was taken out of a game during spring training for not giving maximum effort. Leury Garcia was removed from a game earlier this month for not busting it down the first-base line on a weak grounder that went right to the first baseman.

It’s become a somewhat common tactic for Renteria, and while it might strike some as taking things a little too seriously, what good is this developmental season if a culture goes undeveloped? The White Sox have placed their bright future, in part, in Renteria’s hands, and they’ve talked glowingly about how the players have bought into his style and how the team played last season under his leadership.

If Renteria truly is the right man for the rebuild, things like this are how he’s going to establish his culture. And it will, he hopes, impact how all those prospects play when they’re no longer prospects and the White Sox are contending for championships.