MLB preview: White Sox head into new season focused on high energy, good health
They both watched the White Sox numerous times in opposing uniforms last season.
Andrew Benintendi was the Royals' all-star left fielder and Pedro Grifol's vantage point came from the dugout, where he was Kansas City's bench coach.
What did the duo see from the Sox, who were baseball's most disappointing team with an 81-81 record?
"It was a really difficult club to prepare for," Grifol said. "If the energy was high, they could beat anybody in the game. And if the energy wasn't, we were able to have some success against them."
Benintendi noticed something else.
"I think a lot of things happen throughout a season, guys play through stuff, injuries happen," he said. "From what I saw from afar, the injury bug kind of got everybody over here."
They're both right.
As the White Sox's new manager, one of Grifol's primary objectives is keeping the competitive fire burning.
On the Sox's roster after signing a five-year, $75 million contract, Benintendi will try staying healthy and productive as he likely moves into the key No. 3 spot in the lineup.
Jose Abreu hit third for the White Sox for almost a decade. He's moved on to the Astros and won't have to wait long to face his old team.
The Sox open the season Thursday at Houston (6:08 p.m., ESPN) in the first of a four-game series against the defending World Series champions.
Needless to say, Grifol, Benintendi and the rest of the White Sox are facing a challenging early test.
They don't want to show up for Monday afternoon's home opener against the Giants with an 0-4 record, but a marathon season awaits and the Sox seem to be motivated by last year's poor showing.
"Obviously, we had such high expectations for last season," said Dylan Cease, who finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting last year. The right-hander starts for the White Sox vs. the Astros in the opener.
"If you take pride in what you're doing you really took that to heart, failing and losing like that," Cease added. "It hurts. I think if we take that to heart and do use that, anytime you can have a little chip on your shoulder and have that extra motivation, it's always a positive."
Cease also acknowledged the never-ending injury issues in 2022.
"That was a huge part of it," he said. "I mean, anytime you are missing superstar players that are game-changing players like that, it just it makes the job more difficult. Obviously, we have to make sure we show up and do the little things right and play hard but I mean, if we are able to keep all those guys on the field at the same time, I think it's a different story for sure."
Leadoff man Tim Anderson -- a proven energizer -- missed the final two months of last season with a finger injury, a devastating loss for the Sox.
Eloy Jimenez was sidelined for more than two months with a hamstring injury and Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal and Lance Lynn also dealt with health issues.
Moncada missed the last few days of spring training with lower back soreness, but he was able to work out Wednesday in Houston and is good to go for the opener.
All-star closer Liam Hendriks missed spring training while being treated for Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
In Houston Wednesday, general manager Rick Hahn said Hendriks has not been placed on the 60-day injured list, which is good news. The White Sox are still not sure when Hendriks will return.