The White Sox entered Friday’s game with the Detroit Tigers as the last-place team in the American League Central. The pitching hasn’t done enough to make up for an offense has been among the worst in baseball, and the team in general hasn’t exactly been great on the bases or in the field.
And while general manager Rick Hahn said before the Sox beat the Tigers 4-3 in 11 inningsthat he’s “certainly not stunned by anything,” he probably didn’t spend the offseason envisioning answering the type of questions he’s getting these days.
Of course, much of the talk with a last-place team centers around what it’ll do before the July 31 trade deadline. The Sox are no different, and even though Hahn said “let’s see what the next 30 days have to hold for us, because right now we feel guys are starting to come around” he also stressed “there’s no magic date” when they have to say whether they’re in or out.
“Obviously as you get closer toJuly 31you have some priorities you have to put in order, whether it’s the current season and feeding what you’re doing right now versus reshaping for the future,” Hahn said. “As we sit here today our hope continues to be that we’re in a position to add and have reinforcements come in here to contribute in a championship run.”
At least recently, the Sox have been somewhat better. They went 5-6 during an 11-game road trip through Toronto, Baltimore, Houston and Texas. And even with their slow start, the Sox are only 7 1/2 games behind Kansas City, leaving plenty of time for a rally.
“We all had high hopes and we still have high hopes. But these things happen over a stretch,” Hahn said. “Again, we feel right now the arrow’s pointing up. We just went through a very difficult stretch, and while we didn’t set the world ablaze with the record we held our own.”
Time, however, isn’t unlimited. The time will come soon when the Sox have to decide how to approach the deadline.
Based on what he told his scouts at the end of spring – that they wanted to address positions of need – Hahn would like to add. But if that isn’t the prudent way to proceed, Hahn won’t.
“Again, we have to be nimble enough that if things don’t quite go the way we hope, and we don’t put ourselves right back in the thick of this thing, that we may have to adjust and go the other direction,” Hahn said. “But our intent is absolutely to look to add when the time comes, and our hope is to add when the time comes.”
One way or another, the Sox can help make Hahn’s decision easier. They’ll get that chance over the next 30 days or so, and Hahn even talked about how teams can make strong runs in the second half.
Whether these Sox would get that chance after another slump remains to be seen, though Hahn sounds confident that won’t be coming.
“The team is gelling a little bit more and we think brighter days are ahead,” Hahn said.
A BIG MOVE
Robin Ventura made a lineup switch that proved key late in the game.
Ventura hit Alexei Ramirez second and bumped the struggling Melky Cabrera to sixth. It paid off in the 11th with Adam Eaton on first and none out when Ventura allowed Ramirez to swing away, leading to a sharp single up the middle.
“He might stay there against lefties,” Ventura said of Ramirez, who was 2 for 4. “I think he’s a little more energized there. You could have bunted there in the last inning but the way he’s swinging it the last couple days it was a good spot for him just to go ahead.”
THE BULLPEN’S NIGHT
After Jose Quintana left before the eighth, the Sox bullpen picked up the slack. Zach Putnam, who had been dealing with a thumb problem, struck out the side in the eighth. David Robertson then threw two scoreless innings before Jake Petricka earned the win after holding Detroit in the 11th.
“The bullpen’s trying to pull together and we’re stretched pretty thin right now,” Robertson said. “A lot of guys have been throwing a lot of days. We just have to continue taking the ball and hope for those days when you get a big break.”