MINNEAPOLIS – Well, that wasn’t pretty.
It’s not over yet, of course, the White Sox set for the final six games of the regular season.
But their fate has been written, with a Mariners win late Wednesday night finally and officially eliminating the White Sox from postseason contention. That was a given since last Tuesday’s loss to the Guardians, who ended up sweeping the South Siders to kick off an eight-game losing streak that came to an end Thursday in Minnesota. Now, though, it’s mathematically impossible for the White Sox to play past next week’s three-game series against the Twins.
It’s a stunning result, considering this team arrived at spring training with World Series expectations. Instead of playing championship-caliber baseball, however, an injury-ravaged roster stumbled through six months of uninspiring baseball, only rarely able to capture the same sort of energy and attitude that accompanied their ascent out of rebuilding mode over the last couple seasons.
So playing out the schedule – attempting to avoid another upsetting benchmark of finishing the year with a sub-.500 record – the White Sox can finally start to reflect. That’s what many of them did in conversations with CHGO and speaking to the assembled media this week in Minneapolis. What follows is a collection of reactions from White Sox players to their final destination this season, not the deep October run this roster was built for but a trip to the couch to watch the playoffs on TV.
Whether big change is coming this offseason or not, there’s no doubt that this is far from where anyone believed this team would end up. The White Sox are left, then, to simply pick up the pieces of a lost season and try to answer the one giant question:
What went wrong?
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Lucas Giolito, starting pitcher
“Man, it’s a lot. I think it’s hard to sum it up in one thing. It’s been a lot. Start with the injuries. A lot.”
Jimmy Lambert, relief pitcher
“I don’t think any of us can put our finger on one thing. We don’t want to make excuses. It wasn’t a smooth year on a lot of fronts, obviously injuries and stuff like that. But we really were never able to get on a roll. We had a couple of really good weeks, big series. We just weren’t able to get the train rolling like we were last year. We know we missed out on an opportunity. And it hurts.”
Andrew Vaughn, outfielder
“Sometimes, I feel like we rode the lows a little too much. If we got hot, it just kind of fluttered out. We didn’t play up to our potential, I don’t think. I think everybody would say that. … We had some injuries. We had countless things happen. But we didn’t play our best, plain and simple.”
Josh Harrison, second baseman
“Baseball’s going to present you with challenges every day, and you’ve got to be able to answer those challenges. And I think we fell short answering a lot of those this year. At the same time, it’s baseball. You can look good on paper, but you’ve still got to go out and do it.
“It’s been a weird year. … This is one of those years where you can look back and say, ‘We had the potential to do this.’ We didn’t. … I’ve been part of 12 seasons. I’ve been part of all types of seasons. And this for me, it was a little weird.”
Joe Kelly, relief pitcher
“(Injuries) are going to happen, everybody’s going to have a lot. Obviously, if you don’t have a healthy team, you’re not going to perform. But we’ve had our opportunities and our chances. The biggest thing we’ve had is just not playing sound baseball for a given amount of time. There’d be weeks where we have and weeks where we’re not, and it’s kind of shown with our record, obviously, around .500. The No. 1 thing was probably consistency, honestly.”
Dylan Cease, starting pitcher
“I don’t know how else to say it, we just didn’t really play up to our ability. … I just think we didn’t play super clean baseball a lot of the time.”
Luis Robert, outfielder
“We weren’t as consistent as we wanted to be. Too many ups and downs, more downs than ups, and that affected the way that we played. When you have injuries, that’s something you cannot avoid. You can have your players playing, but if you have your players dealing with different injuries, you know the guys out there are not 100 percent. That’s going to affect your performance, too. You can’t control that. I really believe that’s one of the main reasons why we underperformed this year.”
“In the game of baseball, you also need to have luck. And I think we lacked luck this year. It’s like the injuries. Sometimes during games, in high-leverage situations, close situations, we made hard contact with the ball and the ball went straight to a defender. Those are the little things you can’t control. That’s the luck factor you need. In our case, we lacked luck.
“I’m not making an excuse. We underperformed for several reasons. But you need to have a little bit of luck, also, to have success at this level. And we didn’t.”
“When things aren’t going well, you’re dealing with injuries, guys put more pressure on themselves. You feel like you’ve got to do more. When things aren’t going right and you try to do more, it’s not going to get better.
“You don’t want to be selfish, but at the same time you have to be selfish in the aspect of, ‘If I’m the best individual I am and that goes throughout this clubhouse, everybody does the best that they are, collectively as a team, we’ll be better.’ But if not everybody’s not having the success they anticipated, now you start to – I don’t want to say get in a shell – but you’re trying to keep your head above water. And sometimes, that causes pressing, chasing pitches or I’m not as confident as I should be.
“Confidence is something that you don’t change. We expected to win every game we went out there. Truth be told, it didn’t happen that way.”
“It’s been a performance thing. You have your days where you’re tired and not feeling good, but you’ve got to find a way to power through. It could be a sickness or a minor injury. The great teams that I’ve been on, you’ve seen guys be able to push through those things and power through.”
“It’s kind of a disappointment. We want to put on a show for our fans. That’s how we play this game, we get fans in the stands and put on a show. And we didn’t get to do that much this year. It’s kind of disheartening. You can always say there’s next year, but you’ve got to be disappointed about this year and the way we played.”
“It’s 162 games. People say, ‘You got off to a good start, you got off to a bad start, you finished this way.’ But what about those middle months? All these games are important. We didn’t get to where we wanted to be this year. It was a wild ride. As crazy as things were, all you can ask for is an opportunity. We had every opportunity, we just didn’t seize onto them.”
“It’s one of those things where if you’re going through a period of time where everything’s not clicking for one part or unit of the team. Sometimes we had two-third of the team (clicking) – whether it was position players and starters, or bullpen and starters, or position players and bullpen – it just hasn’t been the three-out-of-three thing that we’ve been looking for.
“With winning teams and championship-type teams, it’s usually the whole team effort, when they’re pulling their weight all together for the same period of time, those are the teams that win the most games. For the entire season, it’s usually been two out of three. It’s looked great when it’s been three out of three, we could match up and beat anybody and we’ve proven that. But try to minimize (the moments) where a third of the team is performing and two-third of the team aren’t.
“How do we figure out a way to get everyone involved and get everyone to perform at the same time? That’s been the biggest downfall for us this year.”
– – – – –
“Yeah, (players responded well to Tony La Russa and the coaching staff). But at the same time, you can respond however you want to respond, at the end of the day, it’s up to that individual to go do what they’ve got to do. You can respond to the coaching staff well, but if you’re not tapped into what you need to do as an individual, it doesn’t matter.”
“I think the only thing that we can control is to go out there and do our best. No one wants to give up a homer, no one wants to strike out, but that’s part of the game and it happens. The things that we can control is how we prepare, how we go out there and approach the game. I think more often than not, we did a good job. We have to keep doing it next year, try to do our best, and that’s the only thing that we can control.”
“The good news is we have the ability and we have all the stuff here. We just have to implement it.
“It could just be one of those fluke years, freak years that things don’t go our way. It could be a little bit of some other things. I think we just have to honestly assess it, each one of us individually, and then come up with a plan and a little process to get better, even if it’s just a little bit every day.”
“I think it’s a good learning experience, us falling short of our goal. There’s going to be time in the offseason where everyone will have the time to look back and see where the season went wrong. I think there will be a lot of change, mentally. Going back and reflecting, you learn the most when you don’t perform as well or your season doesn’t go as well as you wanted it to. You can learn more from that than absolutely dominating.”
“I think going into the offseason, everybody’s going to have that mindset: ‘Get ready to go for next year and see what we can do.’
“The talent is unbelievable in here. Offseasons are always different, you never know what’s going to come. But we’re going to get back together and hopefully do some really good things.”
“We’ve got most of these guys coming back next year. I think it’s going to make us that much more hungry.
“I don’t want to say everybody’s looking forward to the offseason, but just a little bit of a reset. And I would bet for sure next year you’re going to see a hungry team come out and (be) ready to take a hold of this thing.”
Eloy Jiménez, outfielder
“Next year is the year!”
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