Team chemistry and bonding has been a popular talking point since the Sox, with 13 new players on the Opening Day roster, seemingly coming together after their first 30 games.
It helped that they won six games in a row.
“The winning comes first,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “The winning always helps. You look at chemistry and how it happens and it always basically starts with winning and you go from there. And sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes there are personalities that don’t necessarily mesh but I think this group, it’s a good group.’’
“It’s a fun group of guys,’’ catcher Tyler Flowers said. “We’ve had good groups in the past but this one seems a little more special.’’
A common theme heard is that the players will ride each other but always pull for each other. That has value, the players say, during a team slump. The Sox lost their third straight Thursday night.
“That’s something we really have in this group and it’s from different areas,’’ Flowers said. “Melky [Cabrera] has been a great bridge for some of the non-English speakers, keeping all of us as a unit amongst other guys. But the camaraderie of the team has been really great throughout the season.’’
“It’s evolved, it’s a good group,’’ Ventura said. “They get along; they get on each other. I enjoy seeing it. I think they pull for each other. The last stretch on the road trip [five straight wins] helps but you like the way it’s headed.’’
The energy group
Ventura started Emilio Bonifacio at second in place of Carlos Sanchez and Gordon Beckham at third for Conor Gillaspie. Keeping everyone sharp is the goal, and Ventura likes what Beckham-Bonifacio, who have started in tandem in the past, bring to the lineup.
“It’s kind of an energy group,’’ Ventura said.
Flowers was hitting .205 with one homer and Geovany Soto .170 with two. While reminding that catchers who produce a lot of offense are hard to find, Ventura expects more.
“We know those guys can be better and they can hit better and they can produce better,’’ Ventura said. “We’re waiting for them to turn around just like the rest of our offense to hit its stride.’’
This and that
Pitching coach Don Cooper will be absent Friday and Saturday while attending a family graduation. Bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen will assume Cooper’s duties while bullpen coach Mark Salas takes Thigpen’s regular role. Thigpen filled in for Cooper when he was hospitalized twice for diverticulitis during the 2013 season.
Ventura is expected to be off in June because of a graduation in the family.
- The Sox’ 11-7 home record through Wednesday was the third-best in the American League behind the Royals (15-6) and Twins (14-6).
- *The Sox’ 38 grounded-into double plays ranked second in the majors behind the Tigers’ 42.
Pitching probables for the weekend series against the Twins:
Friday, 7:10, CSN, 670-AM, 1200-AM
Phil Hughes (3-4, 4.76) vs. Jeff Samardzija (3-2, 4.58)
Saturday, 3:10, Ch. 9, 670-AM, 1200-AM
Trevor May (2-3, 5.15) vs. Chris Sale (3-1, 4.36)
Sunday, 1:10, CSN, 670-AM, 1200-AM
Kyle Gibson (3-2, 2.98) vs. Jose Quintana (2-4, 4.13)