White Sox

Cubs staying positive as losses mount

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Cubs staying positive as losses mount

Though the expectations surrounding the Cubs heading into 2012 were low, a 3-11 start is hardly how anybody pictured things playing out.

Dale Sveum's squad is in the midst of a six-game losing streak that came on the heels of back-to-back big wins against the Brewers and Cardinals late last week.

"We're losing ballgames, but we're not losing because of effort and we're not losing because of preparation," Sveum said. "The guys are busting their butts. As a coaching staff, the one thing that is noticed is us. If we're hanging our heads and we're losing our enthusiasm, then the whole team sees that and starts following suit sometimes. It's very important for us to be upbeat all the time and understand that these guys are busting their butts every day and we're going to get out of this.

"The guys have been very upbeat. As a clubhouse, they've been great. It's just a matter of putting some wins together."

Chris Volstad took the hill to try to stop the bleeding Friday, but his string of bad luck continued. The 6-foot-8 righty has not won a game in his last 14 starts dating back to 2011 and the Cubs have not won a game as a team since last Friday.

"It's a little frustrating, but guys aren't getting down on themselves," Volstad said. Everyone is coming in every day with a positive attitude to start the day off. We're not a team that is ever going to get down on ourselves or quit or back down from anybody. Everyone is positive. We know the kind of talent we have, we just haven't really shown it yet."

First baseman Bryan LaHair knows a thing or two about battling adversity and echoed his teammate's thoughts.

"We're the kind of team that's going to continue to play hard and fight," said LaHair, a career minor-leaguer that is getting his first shot to start in the majors this season.

LaHair was the only Cub to collect two hits Friday, but the team hit the ball hard all afternoon and just came up empty more often than not.

"I don't know if you ever get down when you're swinging the bat good and you're not getting anything for it," Sveum said. "You know you're swinging the bat good and you're having good at-bats and putting a good swing on the ball.

"I think it's more important that they understand once the weather warms up or you're hitting somewhere else -- in better hitters parks than what we've been dealing with -- a lot of those things will turn out for the better."

The Cubs send Paul Maholm to the mound Saturday in an effort to stop the losing streak.

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.