The new Chicago White Sox manager, Pedro Grifol, recently made some comments on a podcast that should give fans hope about his managerial style — and renewed anger about the lost 2022 season.
Grifol went on the “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast and essentially said that the Chicago White Sox will be hard to beat if they play with energy and they didn’t do that about half the time in 2022.
Grifol knows from experience as he was the Kansas City Royals bench coach and the AL Central divisional rivals faced off against the Sox 19 times in 2022. Host Courtney Finnicum asked Grifol what he thought the 2022 White Sox were lacking.
He said they were second to none in terms of talent and then he said that when it came to game planning, it wasn’t so much what can you do to beat them, it’s what type of energy and what type of team is coming out there to play against you that particular day.
The Chicago White Sox clearly had some big issues during the 2022 season.
Grifol did take into account the heavy amount of injuries the 2022 Sox suffered and he touched briefly on his own plans to try to keep this year’s team healthy. Then he pivoted back.
"“The energy was a big part of it. I can’t deny that. That’s something I saw from the other side. If the energy was high and they were ready to play that day, you had your hands full, and that’s just the bottom line. If the energy wasn’t high, you can tell from the very beginning. If the energy wasn’t high, then, you know, you obviously had a good chance to win a ball game.”"
He then talked about the Sox’s failures when it came to fundamentals.
"“There was a lot of times where when we were preparing for them, we were always telling our guys ‘make sure you run the bases hard, make sure you’re thinking an extra base, these guys miss a lot of cutoff guys’. They’re not fundamentally sound when it comes to the details of the game.”"
He followed up by saying that in 2021, the Sox were good enough to play through their deficiencies but they weren’t able to do the same when the injury bug struck in 2022.
That’s a tough indictment of former manager Tony La Russa who was supposed to be the kind of old-school manager that would help the Sox improve their fundamentals.
It’s also a bad indictment of the players and Sox fans should hope that those same players are willing to listen to Grifol and improve the fundamentals.
The good news is that Grifol says that Sox brass asked about the 2022 team’s failings when he was interviewed.
The bad news is that Sox reliever Joe Kelly said on the Score earlier this week that liked the previous regime’s strategy of having the Sox sometimes not hustle in order to avoid getting hurt and/or exacerbating existing injuries.
Throughout the podcast, Grifol said the right things about having high energy and the right culture and being better at fundamentals. Let’s hope he’s able to walk the walk.
For now, it’s one more reminder that the 2022 team was such a letdown and that its failures can’t be solely blamed on injuries. Another reminder? The way that the Cleveland Guardians trolled the Sox during their own playoff celebration.
Yes, 2022 is over and it’s time to turn the page. But the Sox can’t move forward until they understand what went wrong last year and how to fix it.
Not to mention that from a pure fan’s perspective, it will be hard to forgive the franchise for blowing a year out of the championship window by hiring the wrong manager.
Fan emotion is one thing. The more important part of that last paragraph, from a performance perspective, is the first part.
Fans should hope the Sox will take Grifol’s message to heart, engage in some self-reflection, and then come out and play to their abilities. If that happens, 2022 might be reframed as a bit of adversity that had to be overcome on the way to success.