First Full Squad Day
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Your entire 2012 Chicago White Sox took the field today following an 8 a.m. staff meeting, physicals for a few players and staff and manager Robin Ventura’s first full-team clubhouse meeting.
Prior to the workout, Paul Konerko met with the media, and a few of his comments generated some interesting headlines. I started to cut down Paulie’s comments – which is always tough with him because he is thoughtful and gives long, involved answers vs. typical clubhouse “sound bites.” Anyway, I decided it was probably better to give you his entire answer to those specific questions and let you judge for yourselves. To me, Paul wasn’t making predictions about the coming season or being overly negative. To me, he was trying to point out how this team was going to differ from past teams because of its makeup and how progress could be made by many players in our clubhouse no matter what the final season results were for the team. But I didn’t read those comments as overly negative. Anyway, judge for yourself:
On the team’s outlook:
“Every team this time of year, everybody is optimistic and everybody loves everybody. Everybody is hopeful that their own personal season and team season is going to go great. Getting into it, though, there’s a bunch of little bumps in the road, and I’m optimistic that we’re going to do it right, approach it the right away and soak everything we can out of this team, where that puts at the end we’ll have to see. You just start today as a player building habits and as a team you start building habits, and it’s just a piece-by-piece thing as you go. Even in May, June you still have times with the team where you don’t know what you have and you certainly don’t know in the first day of spring training.”
On if the team’s age affects its success:
“It’s kind of a combination. We have picked up a lot of young guys that are going to be on the field and in the bullpen. I think the best thing to do is to not make any comments about what we’re going to do, one way or another. Robin (Ventura) and his staff is going to kind of let us know what they want to see, how they want to go about it and each guy has a different thing in how they want him to play. He’s going to tell Gordon (Beckham) this is what I want to see from you. You kind of know what they’re going to lay out for each guy and you just kind of attack that. I don’t know why there always has to be a declaration on: ‘This is what we’re doing as a team…we’re trying to win this year…we’re trying to rebuild…’ – It doesn’t really matter. You just listen to the staff, take their words on what they want to see you do as a hitter, defensive player or whatever, and you run with it, and then you add it all up together in the end and hopefully it’s good. We have a lot of young guys, you can’t get around that. There’s going to be young guys in the pen. There are young guys in the field that are still trying to establish themselves. Even the older guys, you never know, if you’re doing well you want to keep doing well and there’s the guys who didn’t have a great year last year and you’re looking for them to bounce back. There’s a lot of ‘what ifs’. I don’t think you have to sit there and say, ‘We’re trying to win’ or ‘We’re going to rebuild.’ Who knows? Look at Cleveland last year. They went into last year, not that they won the division last year, but they came into the season looking to see what they had and ended up having a successful season. I think this year, this team is different than a lot of the teams we’ve had recently. Not to throw anyone off with this, but I think this can be a very successful years without making the playoffs.”
On how it can be a successful season without making the playoffs:
“We’re starting with a new staff, kind of a whole new era here, and I think you can start building something now. The teams the past few years have been about: try real hard this year to win, you failed, and then you come back next year and try again from a totally different angle. I think what’s happening here is that they’re trying to build something a little more stable, a little more sustaining. If we go out and compete this year and it doesn’t happen – and you see this with some other teams in the league – you build up momentum and use that to build from the year before and I think that’s why it could be successful. I’m not conceding anything, especially in today’s game there’s way too many teams and with another wild card spot, I mean there are all kinds of other things that are available to make the playoffs and there seems to be a lot of parity. I think with the amount of young guys that we have you have to throw that into the equation if we don’t make it to the playoffs but we do it right and go out and compete well. If you look at it at the end of the year and Morel’s had a really good year, Beckham’s had a good year, Addison Reed’s had a great year – those are all good signs that it’s moving in the right direction and that’s what in my mind can be determined to be a success. Again, you don’t concede anything because anything can happen if you go out there and play hard. There’s a very fine line between those teams that finish in first place and second or third so who knows. You have to give a lot of respect to Detroit right now, not because of what they did in the offseason, but because they became a really good team at the end of the year. They were pretty good all year but at the end of the month they just took it to another level and they are the team to beat. They got a lot of guns and we’ll see what goes on there.”
On if the lack of expectations in 2005 reminds him of this year:
“The one thing I remember about that team is that when we were leaving spring training, as a player you kind of know and think about your team and then you think about if you were playing that team what would you think, what do they have. I remember leaving with that team, and everybody didn’t really talk about us, and we weren’t really that big of a deal, but we had every piece of the puzzle. We had the lefty-righty for the eighth innings, matchups; we had all the answers for that. When you put it on paper at the end of the spring you didn’t really see it, but I think everybody in the clubhouse was thinking, ‘how could this team not be good?’ because we had all the pieces on the team. We’ll see how this season goes on. It’s not always the big names, it’s more about the little pieces that you can sit there and see that this guy’s going to get those outs and like the pieces to an equation. That team, a lot of the guys on there knew that going out we were going to be good and hopefully this team gets that.”
Following the workout, Ventura addressed the media, talking about his speech and Konerko’s comments.
What was your message to the team today?
“It was pretty short and straight to the point as far as showing up and getting prepared to play. We’re here to win games. It’s important to me and to the staff that they show up everyday ready to play and give good effort. Everybody’s put in too much time and effort into coming out here and organizing stuff for the team for guys to just show up and not care. It’s offensive to me for people to come in who don’t put out a good effort. It’s pretty much that simple for right now.”
What does it mean when you say ‘good effort?’
“Play hard. Right now you’re going through drills and everything else. I want them having fun but I want them to take it seriously and realize we don’t put it on the schedule just to go through the motions and have it there. I want it done right or we’re going to stay out until we do it right.”
Do you have any team rules?
“There are a few of them. Be on time is definitely at the top. Be a good teammate and respecting each other and who you represent as far as the White Sox and the city. That kind of stuff.”
Konerko said that this season could be a success without making the playoffs. Do you know what he meant by that?
“Yeah, I know what he meant. He’s talking about the expectations from the outside — of us being young and not even being in contention. If we play well and play good team baseball it can be, but we’re obviously looking for more than just that. I guess the way he’s looking at it, I get what he’s saying.”
Do you want everyone in the clubhouse looking at it that same way?
“No, he’s looking at it matter-of-factly. But he wants more than that too. Sometimes there’s nothing more you can do about it. He wants to win too, but I get what he’s saying.”
Do you believe in team captains?
“He [Konerko] is one. He’s been a captain in the past and he does all of that stuff right. So there’s no reason to change that.”