GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The reality of his situation isn’t all that pleasant, so David Robertson is doing his best to solely focus on baseball.
Second only to Jose Quintana in the team rumor mill, the White Sox closer said Tuesday morning that the uncertainty surrounding the team’s rebuild hasn’t been easy. Even though spring training has already begun, Robertson, who primarily has been the focus of trade talks with the Washington Nationals, said he realizes anything can happen. So for now Robertson -- who went 5-3 with 37 saves in 44 tries and a 3.47 ERA in 62 games -- wants to keep his attention on preparation for the World Baseball Classic and then on the regular season, wherever he may be.
“It's tough because there's nothing I can really do,” Robertson said. “I can't control anything about it so I just try to put it in the back of my mind. Just come to the field and do the work I need to do and whatever decisions this organization makes is what they're going to do. I only have a choice, I'll end up doing what I want to do, play baseball.”
The rumors of Robertson to Washington haven’t slowed down at all. Earlier this week, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale said dialogue between the two teams has continued up until the edge of spring camp only to have their most recent talks stall again. But the two potential trade partners have held intermittent discussions dating back to December when there was discussion of including Robertson in the trade that sent Adam Eaton east.
Dealing with constantly hearing his name in rumors can’t be easy and both general manager Rick Hahn and manager Rick Renteria understand the human element involved. While Renteria said Tuesday he hasn’t addressed the topic individually with players, he won’t hesitate to if it’s necessary. Renteria addressed his team for the first time before Tuesday’s workout and stressed that his door is open at all times.
“We’re certainly open to talking about it, personal or otherwise,” Renteria said. “Those are things that for all these guys, they’re professionals. I think right now they’re more focused on getting ready to perform.”
Hahn agrees with Renteria -- being at camp is probably the best distraction. Robertson has another diversion as well as he’s one of four White Sox pitchers participating in the World Baseball Classic, which runs from March 6-22.
“When they are here, they can focus more on doing their job,” Hahn said. “Regardless of the uniform they are wearing, they know how to prepare for a season.
“They are able to a little more easily block out a little more of the outside distractions when they are hear getting ready for their profession. I don’t foresee that being an issue at all.”
It wasn’t until Sale was traded to the Boston Red Sox that Robertson received clarity on which direction the White Sox were headed this winter. Given how the team attempted to piece together its roster in his first two seasons, Robertson half expected more additions and another try in 2017. But all the uncertainty was cast aside at the point Sale was traded.
“I didn't know which direction the organization was going to take but obviously, they kind of set the table by making those trades,” Robertson said. “They're looking to rebuild so either I'm going to be a part of it or I'm going to be a piece that gets moved.”
Robertson, who has two years and $25 million left on his current contract, is excited to pitch for Team USA. The right-hander, who had surgery to clean up a meniscus tear in the offseason, said he’s ahead of his normal throwing schedule. When he returns from that, Robertson can then focus on the regular season.
“What else can I do?” Robertson said. “I'm here to play baseball. I'm going to continue to work on getting better and let the cards fall where they're going to be. I can't do anything about it. I'm just going to try my best to stay here. If I stay here, great. If I get moved, it's their decision.”