When Eloy Jiménez was asked late in January if there are players on the White Sox who can step up in the place of Jose Abreu and become a leader, he was dumbfounded and responded quite candidly.
"I don't know," Jiménez said puzzled after looking away and raising his hands. "I don't have the answer (to) that."
Herein lies one – if not the most alarming – question that needs answering by the time Opening Day rolls around at the beginning of April.
Who is the leader and the voice of the White Sox?
Surely, the departure of Abreu, who was a renowned voice in the clubhouse, calls the question of finding a new leader.
"Obviously, Abreu's not here and he was the leader last season," White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. "Somebody's gonna step up here. That's what this is about. We lost a really good leader, but we're expected to gain two or three, maybe more in that clubhouse."
On top of losing Abreu, the White Sox are without Liam Hendriks for an undetermined amount of time. Hendriks is arguably the loudest voice on the team and one of the most successful veterans in the clubhouse.
While the White Sox are without a formidable captain to steer the ship, they await someone to step up and grab the wheel himself.
"Somebody's gonna step up and lead this ball club," Grifol said. "I'm not sure who's gonna do it, but somebody's gonna do it."
Let it be known, the White Sox are a team that thrives on energy, fire and leadership. When past leaders have gone down, like Tim Anderson during last season, the team becomes a shell of its confident, robust self.
"The biggest punch we had was when TA [Tim Anderson] went down," White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal said in December on the White Sox Talk podcast. "Because he's our guy. That was a big punch in the gut.
"That was kind of the challenging part about last year. Who is gonna be the spark? Who is gonna take over? Who is gonna be the guy today? I feel like we put so much pressure on each other to be the guy that it kinda just went downhill."
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Certainly, as it stands right now, the team is looking towards Grifol to fill the leadership void until they figure out who and how they will conduct their operation.
"I told him the other day when I talked to him he's the captain of this ship," reliever Kendall Graveman said. "And the captain of this ship has the right to take it where he wants to. That's what a captain does. For him to be our captain, we're all on board with him."
The team has taken hits from a leadership standpoint. Without Abreu permanently, nor Hendriks for some time, the White Sox will have to figure out who will step up and charge towards the battle before the rest.
Grifol mentioned finding a leader, or multiple leaders, is "important" but opted to call the search for a new voice a "process" and one he doesn't anticipate rushing.
"Leadership, in my opinion, is 10 percent given and 90 percent taken," Grifol said. "Somebody's gonna take it. Somebody's gonna step up and lead this ball club, if not, multiple guys. I'm not gonna rush that process at all.
"I read this quote not too long ago and I really believe it, it's 'Good teams – coaches hold players accountable. Great teams – players hold players accountable.' I really believe that. In this environment, we need to do both. . . But it's gonna take some time."