Mark Gonzales: When Sox clean up their errors, the wins will return

  • Catcher Reese McGuire looks over the field as Minnesota's Luis Arraez slides into home after the Sox committed two errors, allowing two runs to score, last week in Minneapolis.

    Catcher Reese McGuire looks over the field as Minnesota's Luis Arraez slides into home after the Sox committed two errors, allowing two runs to score, last week in Minneapolis. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/28/2022 5:34 PM

Slightly more than a decade ago it wasn't uncommon for a media member who arrived at the White Sox's clubhouse either late or looking disheveled to be told to "clean it up" by a staff member or even a player.

More times than not, the suggestion worked, and order was restored.

 

With more than five months left, the same advice applies to a White Sox defense that haunted them during a 2021 American League Division Series loss to the Astros and shown few signs of improvement.

Sure, there are other areas of addressing. Tightening the strike zone has been an ongoing mission for the offense. The back end of a potent bullpen has stumbled.

Injuries have surfaced with a vengeance. Third baseman Yoan Moncada hasn't played because of right oblique strain. Josh Harrison, who was signed to play second base, split time at third with Jake Burger before experiencing shoulder soreness.

The pitching staff has been forced to adjust due to lengthy injuries to Lance Lynn, Garrett Crochet and Joe Kelly.

General manager Rick Hahn and manager Tony La Russa are quick to point out that every team is coping with injuries, especially in an environment where there wasn't a traditional buildup thanks to a shortened spring training.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Unfortunately for the Sox, they're forced to get accustomed to life without Eloy Jimenez for an extended period, perhaps through June.

But the Sox weathered an array of injuries in 2021 to win the AL Central. They won with rookie Andrew Vaughn, who was drafted as a first baseman, making 86 starts in left in place of Jimenez, who tore a pectoral tendon with one week left in spring training.

They survived for nearly two months after catcher Yasmani Grandal tore a tendon in his right knee. Third baseman Yoan Moncada played 144 games while coping with a sore right shoulder. They built a lead comfortable enough to navigate the final two months without having the services of Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Carlos Rodon on a full-time basis.

"The memory and the resourcefulness should be there for these guys to understand what they're capable of doing and pull themselves out of this," Hahn said Tuesday.

At that time, the Sox finished an 0-6 trip that extended their streak of making an error in 14 of 15 games. They led the majors with 20 errors entering play Thursday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

La Russa was fairly blamed for his strategy that led to Byron Buxton hitting a walk-off home run at Minnesota that punctuated the winless trip. The Sox went through a series of infield fielding drills before pregame batting practice Tuesday, so any allegations of ignoring the defensive woes are baseless.

But it didn't help. First baseman Jose Abreu's inability to handle a low but catchable throw from Tim Anderson led to two runs in the fourth inning of a 6-0 loss to Kansas City.

Dallas Keuchel didn't help his cause with five walks, but a ground ball maven like Keuchel relies on his sinker (and defense) as much as any Sox pitcher.

Keuchel also was haunted by two errors charged to shortstop Anderson during a nine-run second inning at Cleveland on April 20. Keuchel allowed eight hits after the first Anderson error, further heightening his miseries.

Anderson's miscues have been mystifying, especially since he cut down his error total from 26 in 2019 (six in the 60-game 2020 season) to 10 in 2021.

A few balls have scooted past Abreu, but La Russa wisely intended before the season to use Grandal as the designated hitter to give his knees a break.

The optimistic forecast is that several of Anderson's miscues are correctable, and Hahn believes an outfield comprised of AJ Pollock, Adam Engel and Luis Robert "projects to be pretty strong.

"And over the course of the summer, I think guys are going to perform at their more accustomed levels than what we've seen over the past week or two weeks of poor defensive performance," Hahn said.

If that's the case, then now is the time to clean it up.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.