The White Sox lost another game Sunday, but at least they played clean defense.
Last year, the Sox committed 121 errors, the second-highest total in the major leagues. Heading into Sunday, only the Indians had more team fielding miscues.
Shortstop Alexei Ramirez is having a standout season defensively, second baseman Gordon Beckham is solid with the glove and Adam Eaton uses his standout speed to cover more ground then most center fielders.
After that, the White Sox have struggled catching the baseball, and they are a team that literally has little room for error.
The Sox take fielding practice like every other major-league team, but the defense is lagging much like it did last year.
"You just continue to work at it," Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You're not pleased with it but you continue to work at it and emphasize it. They know it. It's not a secret for them that if we don't play good defense we don't have a chance to win. So we continue to work on it and preach about it. That's how you help it get better; you work on it."
When talking about the mental aspects of playing defense, Ventura sounded a lot like he did last season.
"There are times it can mentally be a block, trying to let it go down the wrong path," Ventura said. "Last year I thought we were that way. Everybody wasn't trying to make a play; they were trying not to make a mistake. You have to separate that and let them have a feeling that you can make this play instead of screwing up."
The defensive play of Alejandro De Aza in left field and Dayan Viciedo in right has been particularly worrisome.
"There are times it's a challenge," Ventura said. "If you're already at this point where you're talking about it and thinking about it, it's there. We're not hiding from it. It just needs to be better."
Take a break:
Tyler Flowers is hitless in his last 22 at-bats, and the White Sox' No. 1 catcher has struck out 18 times during the slide.
Not surprisingly, Flowers was on the bench Sunday afternoon and Adrian Nieto was behind the plate.
Nieto has primarily caught John Danks this season, but Andre Rienzo was on the mound for the Sox. Nieto has not started consecutive games this season, but the rookie might get some extended plaing time while Flowers tries to find his swing.
"I think the way (Flowers) has been swinging, he's been working on things, timing, mechanical stuff, and it can wear on you," manager Robin Ventura said.
Zach Putnam pitched 1 inning of scoreless relief Sunday, and the surprising right-hander has allowed only 2 earned runs over his last 21 innings, lowering his ERA to 1.42.
Putnam bounced between the Indians, Rockies and Cubs the past three years, but he is finally healthy after having surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow, and his split-finger fastball has become a lethal pitch.
"The split is a big part for him, but just the confidence of coming in and not being afraid to throw it in any count," manager Robin Ventura said. "I think that's what puts hitters in a defensive mode when they're at the plate. It's such a good pitch and he'll throw it any time. It's hard to sit on anything else when you know there's a chance that could be thrown."