Sox Insider

Hendriks: Sox must 'win April' before winning World Series

Sox Insider

The White Sox spent the spring talking up their World Series expectations.

But you can't win the World Series without being a winner first. The White Sox, through only nine games this season, are under .500, at 4-5.

That means there's a really, really long way to go, and no team should ever be defined by what it does in just the first five percent of a 162-game schedule.

RELATED: Liam Hendriks: Sox 'pen needs 'to go back to Square 1'

But considering the springtime conversation surrounding the White Sox, who entered the regular season as one of the best teams in the American League on paper, folks are rightfully confused at why what's happened so far on the field hasn't lined up.

There have been defensive miscues all over the field, late-game letdowns from the bullpen, a lack of timely hitting and brief, if solid, performances from the starting staff.

"I actually think that some of the executions are not quite what they have to be because they're trying too hard," manager Tony La Russa said.

The South Side skipper viewed that as a positive, actually, that his White Sox are trying too hard instead of not trying at all, a reasonable preference.

But that pressing, that attempt to win the World Series right out of the chute, is not working.

The solution? According to the White Sox biggest offseason acquisition, it's forgetting about everything that was said before Opening Day.

 

"We’re not going to win the World Series now. Let’s stop talking about it," White Sox closer Liam Hendriks said. "Let’s just figure out how to win. Let’s figure out how to win April, figure out how to win this series, ... going out there to get a couple wins under our belt. And all of a sudden, this is a team that can rattle off 10 wins in a row and no one would blink an eye.

"This is a long season. Nobody is going to be talking about the first week in April when we’re 10 games up in the division in August or September. But we’ve got to wait until we get to that until we can get out of this funk and hopefully just win April. And as soon as we win April, I feel like we’re going to be on that roll, that we’re going to be one of those teams. Once we get on a roll, it’s going to be hard to stop us."

The ingredients remain — even if Eloy Jiménez won't be stepping to the plate anytime soon as he recovers from surgery to repair a ruptured pectoral tendon — for the White Sox to be that team.

They're certainly not short on confidence, the guys dismissing any ideas that the team's loaded bullpen has been shaken by a bumpy start. And that's been a trademark of most of these players since long before the White Sox were officially contenders.

All through the spring, team brass complimented that confidence as a really good trait to possess. Hendriks just thinks it takes equal parts confidence and José Abreu-style workmanship to get to the October these White Sox have envisioned playing in.

"I think you definitely need confidence. You definitely need a goal toward the end of the season," Hendriks said. "Our goal is the World Series. If you don’t manifest that, put it out into the universe, you’re not going to ever get to that point because you don’t ever believe that you have the capability of (doing) it.

"You need to be able to do both. You envision the World Series, you envision winning a ring, you envision doing all these things, but in the same sense, you’ve got to remember the small things that come into the day-to-day life of being a baseballer. ... If you’re interested in envisioning, 'OK, we’re going to roll through the season, and then we’re going to get there and that’s when the challenge starts,' you’re never going to get there because you don’t put in that little extra bit in the day-to-day.

"(Commitment to doing the little things) moves forward throughout the season, and all of a sudden that becomes second nature once July, August, all that sort of stuff hits and then you’re rolling all the way to the playoffs."

 

It's not that the White Sox aren't doing those little things right now. But things, big and little, have piled up to lead to losses in the early going.

As Hendriks said, the White Sox will need to "win April" if they want to be a winning team come October.

"I think that's the right attitude," La Russa said. "We're trying to win games in April. ... I think they're really working hard to win games, and I think they're pressing at times. That's how you learn (to) breathe, concentrate. It's all part of what they're going to experience once you stay in contention and get to October, this is all part of it.

"We've had some tough games, and right now, execution here and there is the difference. Good teams learn from when it didn't go right and improve, and that's what we are."

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