By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The hat of White Sox manager Rick Renteria was spiked to the infield once again as he gave the four umpires a piece of his mind.
Third baseman Todd Frazier had just been ejected for disagreeing with a video review in Saturday’s loss to the Athletics, and out came Renteria, who was fuming as he told off the crew. He, too, was tossed, the second straight game he was booted while protecting a player.
This has come to be expected for Renteria, in his first year as White Sox manager. His optimistic personality couples with a fiery in-game demeanor. All Renteria asks is for the players’ best, and he will go to battle with them.
“They’re coming out every single day to try to win a ballgame, do what they can to help us,” Renteria said Monday. “They’re all doing great.”
But the White Sox are mired in a tough stretch, having lost seven of their last eight and now four straight after a comeback fell short to the Yankees, 6-5, on Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field. They own the worst record in the American League at 32-43. There have been individual success stories like Avisail Garcia and Matt Davidson, but this season is now going as one could have expected.
Despite the best efforts from Renteria and his team, the White Sox look like a team in the first season of a major rebuilding project. Their record will likely suffer more as veteran assets are moved in the next month before the trade deadline.
General manager Rick Hahn has been working the phones and preparing to work with contenders. Left-hander Jose Quintana remains the most prized trade piece, while veterans like Frazier, outfielder Melky Cabrera and closer David Robertson could also be dealt before the deadline.
“If we’re going to move talented players, we have to get what we feel is the appropriate value back or it’s not going to happen,” Hahn said.
While Renteria tries to get the best from his roster, Hahn is working to pick it apart. What’s left from years of attempting to contend can now be flipped for young prospects and potential pieces for better days ahead. The White Sox are committed to doing this right.
Hahn admires the drive of Renteria, who’s relentless with each day. He’s committed to winning ballgames during this transitional season.
“He’s been not only positive in terms of high energy and optimistic force, but he’s also been a stabilizing force for these guys,” Hahn said of Renteria. “You see the fight in this team. On any given night, you see this team out there — all 25 guys, the manager and coaching staff — fighting to do everything in their power to win. They’re not distracted by any of (the rebuilding discussions) or any speculation.”
Reality is harsh for Renteria and his White Sox, tempered of course by the fact they attempt to block out every day. This team is best positioned with losing a lot this season.
The Cubs lost 101 games in 2012, the first year of their rebuild. They turned that into the second overall selection in the 2013 amateur draft, choosing a third baseman from the University San Diego by the name of Kris Bryant.
A slugger like Clemson’s Seth Beer could pair well in the lineup with newly signed first-round pick Jake Burger.
“It’s a great time to be getting into the White Sox organization,” Burger said after he took batting practice at Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday.
Burger looked on as the veteran third baseman Frazier took his cuts in the cages Monday afternoon. He then stepped into the batter’s box and crushed a home run 422 feet into the left-field bleachers. Players like Frazier continue to put in the same preparation to bring the White Sox wins with each game, but he knows well that phone call could be coming.
There will be little victories the rest of the way, like with Garcia and Davidson. There will be some feel-good moments, too, like walk-off wins that rally the team. But this season is going mostly as expected.
The White Sox as an organization stand at the intersection of change, working first and foremost for that promise down the road.