White Sox’ Todd Frazier won’t give in to ‘rebuild’ theme
GLENDALE, Ariz. — As you might expect, White Sox players aren’t ‘‘all in’’ on the rebuilding theme of this spring training.
Yes, the Sox traded ace left-hander Chris Sale and outfielder Adam Eaton for prospects and are expected to make more deals. But two quiet months have passed since those trades, and the group assembling for the Sox’ first full-squad workout Saturday isn’t giving in to the negativity.
‘‘Why not?’’ third baseman Todd Frazier said when he was asked Friday if the Sox can win. ‘‘It comes from being a baseball player. In this game, you never know what can happen. Pick up a guy here and there, [and] you never know.’’
Of course, the Sox also could unload a guy here or there from what Frazier calls ‘‘a good core’’ even without Eaton. And don’t forget Sale, a loss Frazier found upsetting.
‘‘We need someone to step up and be our center fielder or right fielder, and we’ll be all right,’’ said Frazier, who has been hitting every day despite a sprained left index finger. ‘‘I don’t like that word — ‘rebuild.’ I talk about refueling.’’
Frazier, who is entering the last season of his contract, could be dealt for a decent return, but the market for power-hitting corner infielders isn’t hot right now. That might change near the deadline — or even sooner if a team with designs on contending loses a key player to injury.
Frazier had 40 home runs and 98 RBI in his first season with the Sox, but his batting average (.225) and on-base percentage (.302) were career lows for a full season and he struck out a career-high 163 times.
So what areas is he looking to improve?
‘‘Basically everything,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a new year, man. I just try and build off what I did last year, think about the positives — the home runs, RBI, all that stuff. But I need to try and hit the ball to right field more, get the average back up, on-base percentage. Little stuff like that, we need to work on together as a team.’’
Call the Sox what you want, but Frazier won’t call them rebuilding.
‘‘I’m not, either,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘It would be foolish for me to say to anybody that it’s not. No, it is. The question is, how do we approach our daily routine to have these guys maximize their ability to learn and execute on a daily basis to give ourselves a chance to win today?
‘‘There’s no player on the face of this earth that comes to the ballpark saying, ‘It’s OK if we lose.’ When you say ‘rebuild,’ many people might equate rebuilding with accepting losing. No. No one accepts losing.’’
Certainly not Frazier, who avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $12 million deal in the offseason. He’ll be playing to win and also will be playing for a big contract in free agency next winter.
‘‘I’ve thought about [free agency], [but] not to the extent where it’s going to bother me the whole year,’’ Frazier said. ‘‘Let’s work on this year. When the time comes, let’s see what happens. Chicago is a nice place to play, and I’d like to play here.’’
NOTE: Left-hander Carlos Rodon threw for the first time in camp, making about 30 light tosses before stretching and taking part in fielding drills.
Rodon is taking it to the extreme by not even making short throws in fielding drills, but he said he is 100 percent healthy and following the Sox’ plan to ease him into the season.
Much like traded ace Chris Sale last season, Rodon will see limited action in Cactus League games and will do much of his work on back fields.
Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.