By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Given the nature of the sport, it’s impossible for baseball players to avoid every negative. In a long season, losing streaks come and go for teams and slumps are a part of a sport in which getting a hit 30 percent of the time is well above average.
With his rebuilding White Sox mired in a six-game losing streak entering play Saturday, manager Rick Renteria has had to gauge the pulse of the clubhouse and make sure he doesn’t over-coach his group when times are bad.
“I have learned what to do through a lot of experience and a lot of failures,” Renteria said. “In terms of our ball club, they are still coming to the ballpark ready to play hard every day. This is just baseball. There are moments where you talk to individuals or the team when it relates to effort. I don’t think that is a problem with our men. If I am to be objective, maybe we have not been as effective as we were on the starting (pitching) side.”
Forgetting past struggles and focusing on the positive of every day is the goal for the White Sox.
“Maybe defensively we have not been going as well,” Renteria said. “That could compound what is going on the mound. So you look at it logically, you see what is going on. We know they are doing their best to hit well and pitch well.”
The plan of rebuilding and obtaining higher draft picks means there must be losing involved. There’s no way around that element, as evidenced by the crosstown Cubs averaging 95 losses per season from 2012-’14 ahead of their turnaround and eventual championship in 2016.
Of course, the other key path to acquiring young talent in a rebuild is to trade veterans. Third baseman Todd Frazier is an example of a player living with the reality that he will be traded again as his White Sox focus on the future.
“I came up on a team that was good the first two years,” Frazier said of his time with the Reds. “The next three was not. Now I am here in a situation where things have fallen off a little bit. You just tell the young guys to keep working hard. The real truth is you got to look deep down inside of yourself. You have to ask ‘Am I saying it with meaning or just because it sounds like the right thing to say?'”
The challenge for players like Frazier is trying to stay upbeat while dealing with the losing and knowing he might not be with the organization much longer.
“You want these young guys to understand things will get better,” Frazier said. “They may get worse before they do. At the same time, think about all the good experiences you have been through. You must project all of the winning and good times that are ahead of you. They can look at some of the crazy stuff I have been through this year. You look within and find a way to get better.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.