The White Sox are 19-8, that’s one thing. That they’ve put together the best record in the American League through a difficult April schedule, played predominantly on the road, is another.
It’s been a stirring performance from where general manager Rick Hahn was sitting.
“I’m extremely impressed with the way we’ve gotten through this stretch,” Hahn said, “not just from a won-loss record standpoint, which obviously we’re thrilled with, but really from a competitiveness standpoint, and how everyone in that locker room has gone about their business and maintained a high level of energy and a high level of focus and an edge over the last several weeks while playing very good baseball.”
In 25 of the Sox games in April, 16 were on the road. Home games included the Cleveland Indians from the AL Central, the Los Angeles Angels and 2015 playoff entry Texas Rangers. The road stretch ended in Toronto (three-game sweep) and Baltimore (four-game split after losing the first two), two difficult places to play.
“When we looked at this schedule when it first came out prior to this season, we saw that April was going to be a bear,” Hahn said. “We were one of only two teams with only one scheduled off day, 19 straight, had to play the AL West champs, the AL East champs, we had to go play at places that were traditionally very difficult for us to win, Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa, Oakland, and these guys came through every day with a focus on winning, high energy, battling late in an at-bat and battling late in games and coming back. And I’m putting aside the won-loss record, which we’re thrilled with.”
Hahn pieced together a mix of veteran leader types such as Todd Frazier and Jimmy Rollins, to name only two, with an existing core of Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton.
“We’re all extremely impressed with the players in that clubhouse,” Hahn said. “They picked each other up. There were a number of occasions where guys had aches and pains without many April off days, and other guys filled in and got the job done, so absolutely thrilled with the way the team has responded to what frankly was a very difficult stretch this season, and one that we will benefit for in the dog days when these off days catch up in July and August. ”
“Just a team effort,” Frazier said. “When you’re playing and doing well you don’t want a day off. [Manager] Robin [Ventura] has been asking guys here and there ‘What do you want to do?’ and it’s, ‘No, we’re playing.’ You want to play, be productive and help as much as possible.”
Hahn said the team hardly blinked when Adam LaRoche retired during spring training, causing a weeklong firestorm and bringing the kind of national attention the franchise didn’t need or want. The attention they’re getting now, because they’re winning, is much more welcome needless to say.
The LaRoche fiasco didn’t sidetrack this team.
“I don’t think anyone who really was around the club would have that sentiment,” Hahn said. “Obviously we had got sidetracked a few days in the middle of March. But really, for those around the club, you couldn’t really sense any difference in that clubhouse on March 28th from what it was on March 8th. They were bonded and focused and loose and ready for whatever lied ahead from the start of camp, minus a few days in the middle, and after.”