By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — A baseball organization is built through a structure, and a winning culture is often created through players with a similar approach, a common goal with a loyal bond.
As the White Sox go through the initial stages of their rebuild, the focus has been on the abilities of the individuals who’ve been added. But beyond that, the team is emphasizing a togetherness that, in time, can help separate good teams from great teams. That bond is built over time and by overcoming adversity collectively.
“That part of the growing together process is huge,” veteran right-hander James Shields said. “That helps build friendships and relationships. You do have to have chemistry on a baseball team. Knowing each other and trust is definitely huge on a baseball diamond.”
Over the past decade, the White Sox poured their resources and focus into a win-now approach. Through free agency and trades, they plugged in position players around an evolving group of talented pitchers from 2009 to 2016, but the end result was zero playoff appearances. Those White Sox teams often lacked the cohesiveness of having come through the same organization together and didn’t have the same approach or vision on a variety of matters.
That served as a reality check for owner Jerry Reinsdorf and management. They all knew with a core that included Chris Sale and Jose Quintana in previous years, the White Sox should be a playoff contender every season. They also believed a missing element was continuity on the roster.
Roster turnover is inevitable for every team, but the White Sox were often going through wholesale changes with the position player group. Now amid a rebuild, the White Sox have a clean slate in teaching young players.
“We have our way,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The players themselves own the reality of what we want to become. We pick our moments (with the young players) to point out to them what we want to become as an organization.”
The White Sox learned that familiarity and trust are a necessary component to winning, and now they’re looking to grow together in the coming years.
“Our players will change through the coming years as we go through this process,” general manager Rick Hahn said about the evolution of the rebuild “The approach coming from Rickey and the staff won’t.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.