(CBS) — The biggest talk at White Sox spring training camp isn’t who is there but who isn’t.
Every day, people are wondering, is this the day superstar free agent Manny Machado, a franchise-changing player, will sign with the South Siders. The Machado watch is on everybody’s minds whether they admit it or not. Sox skipper Rick Renteria continues to go around Machado questions saying, “I can only be concerned with the players who are here.”
It is clear the Sox players have a greater sense of urgency to win this year coming off of a 62-100 season last year. They want to take the next step in 2019, the third year of the rebuild.
Starting pitcher Lucas Giolito said, “From day one Ricky (Renteria) established, it’s not about trying to win and trying to get better. It is about winning now. I have been losing since the minor leagues, then the last few years coming up to here too. I am ready to win.”
The Sox are young and inexperienced, especially the pitchers. So it will be interesting to see how much another year will help this youthful group. How will Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Yoan Moncada and Tim Andersen mature this year?
The excitement is genuine though about the team’s overall potential. Catcher Wellington Castillo could not contain his excitement about working with so many young promising pitchers.
“You can’t imagine,” he said with a huge smile. “I’m really happy. Happy to be here and help this pitching staff. We have something special going on here.”
There are many question marks how the Sox starting rotation will respond after a less than stellar season.
Can Carlos Rodon, who looks like the Opening Day starter, be more consistent this year from start to finish?
How much of a step forward can Reynaldo Lopez take after his first full season in the majors?
Will Gioltio, the former first-round draft pick, who led the American League in walks in earned runs and walks last year finally figure out how to throw strikes on a consistent basis?
Giolito completed a 20 session neuro feedback program this offseason.
“Basically they read your brain waves. They work to build better neuro pathways. For me, it’s about controlling breathing and putting it all tougher on the mental side so I always feel confident and good when I am on the mound competing, ” Giolito said.
The White Sox notable additions to date are veteran starter Ivan Nova, first baseman/DH Yonder Alonso, Reliever/potential closer Kelvin Herrera, Reliever/Closer Alex Colome, reliever Manny Banuelos outfielders Jon Jay and Brandon Guyer.
The Sox believe they have set themselves up to turn the corner after six straight losing seasons, even if they don’t land a superstar like Machado to help speed up the rebuilding process.
Many position players are already in camp (which seems to be the norm these days). The first official full squad workout is Monday.