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updated: 4/5/2015 8:42 PM

Ventura to White Sox: Clean up sloppy play

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  • Video: Samardzija on his Sox debut

  • White Sox manager Robin Ventura didn't like some of the things he saw as spring training was winding down and he want to make sure his players don't fall back into some bad habits.

    White Sox manager Robin Ventura didn't like some of the things he saw as spring training was winding down and he want to make sure his players don't fall back into some bad habits.
    Associated Press


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The first pitch of the new season has yet to be thrown, but there's already a noticeable difference with these White Sox.

Going through the motions is no longer going to be tolerated.

Too many times over the past two seasons, baserunning gaffes, poor defense, maddening walks and other botched basics were commonplace, and that's why the Sox lost 99 games in 2013 and 89 last year while finishing last and fourth, respectively, in the AL Central.

That's not to say Robin Ventura looked the other way considering he had to manage two pretty bad teams.

It's saying much more is expected of this year's White Sox, who beefed up the roster with key newcomers such as Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche and Zach Duke while grooming top prospect Carlos Rodon to make an impact at some early stage this season.

Ventura didn't expect the Sox to go undefeated during Cactus League play in spring training, but he didn't care for the way camp ended.

The White Sox lost seven of their last 10 exhibition games, prompting Ventura to issue a warning before Sunday's workout at Kauffman Stadium.

"It wasn't necessarily the results," said Ventura, who begins his fourth season in the dugout Monday afternoon when the Sox open against the Royals. "There was some sloppiness in there that we raised and took care of in some meetings.

"You need to play better. This is the major leagues. If you are not going to play clean baseball, you are not going to have a chance to win.

"I think just the attitude, the mentality changes on a lot of these guys once you leave Arizona and start getting ready for actually everything counting. So, for these guys, it's all about the execution of what you do. We need to be good at it. There's a lot of details that you need to be good at and we need to be better at."

When he was healthy last season, Adam Eaton played the game right, whether it was being dangerous out of the leadoff spot or getting the job done on defense.

Like Ventura, Eaton wasn't seeing too many positives during the final days of spring training.

"(Ventura's) right," Eaton said. "He's absolutely right. I think all of us know that. Spring training is spring training, you know, get the kinks out in spring training. At the same time, there is an expectation to execute, with the bat, in the field, pitching, cuts and relays.

"This is the big-league level and expectations are high to do that even in spring training. The lull of spring training really got to us toward the end. When games don't matter and kind of the vibe is a little different, it is difficult to come and perform well.

"But at the same time you know you're professional and it needs to be held at a little higher pace."

Samardzija really struggled in the Cactus League, going 1-3 with an 8.44 ERA. The right-hander also was tagged for 9 home runs in 21⅓ innings.

Taking the mound Monday in place of injured ace Chris Sale (foot fracture), Samardzija will try to flip the switch against Kansas City.

"I'm excited to go," Samardzija said. "It's what we prepared for, it's what we do all the hard work in the off-season for. It's time to take a deep breath and get ready for the long stretch of the regular season.

"I definitely appreciate a full stadium, that's for sure. I enjoy doing it, there's a little more buzz in the atmosphere and you just kind of want to use it and go out there and stay calm early.

"But as the game goes on, really start feeding into that energy and let it be an aid instead of a hindrance."

If the Sox roll out to a good start this week, the unpleasant end of spring training will quickly be forgotten.

"We probably didn't get the results we expected in spring training," first baseman Jose Abreu said through a translator. "But that's part of spring training, to get ready for the season. I think we're in a very good position to start the season."

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