MINNEAPOLIS – Hitting coach Todd Steverson says give them time, but the White Sox might not want to wait much longer.
Their punchless bats have been at the forefront of an 8-13 start and four-game losing streak, but Stevenson tried to keep it in perspective before their 5-3 loss to the Twins Saturday at Target Field.
“Just baseball, really,’’ Steverson said. “Baseball is a game of streaks, some good, some bad. Mostly average. I classify us between average and a tick below average.
“I’d rather get it out of the way now and get everybody rolling toward the middle-end of the year rather than conk out toward the end. … With the history and talent of our players – we didn’t put acquire them because they couldn’t play major league baseball – they’ll come around. They know it’s about them and they’ll rectify it.’’
Melky Cabrera had three hits and raised his average to .286, Avisail Garcia had two and is at .320, so there are signs of life. Manager Robin Ventura also pinch hit for cleanup man Adam LaRoche (.203) with Tyler Flowers, who is in a 3-for-26 slump, a clear sign that everything is far from clicking, too. Flowers coaxed a walk against lefthander Brian Dunesing.
Jose Abreu went 0-for-3 and is in a 2-for-19 rut. The Sox did collect 10 hits, but didn’t get much bang for the buck because they hit into two double plays (LaRoche, Alexei Ramirez), were caught stealing twice (Ramirez, Garcia) and had leadoff man J.B. Shuck thrown out trying to stretch an RBI single into a double.
“We need something to fall through when we get a lot of guys on,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “We had some opportunities that we are not cashing in on. Eventually it’s going to happen.’’
“Approach wise it’s getting better,’’ Steverson said. “We just need to string together two or three knocks and we’ll be alright.’’
Scoring three runs was actually noteworthy for the Sox, who had two or fewer in 11 games. They haven’t hit a home run in seven games and were last in the American League in runs scored and on-base percentage.
Steverson knows his hitters need to carry much more weight for a team that came into the season with high expectations but is sitting at 8-13 going into Sunday afternoon’s game against the Twins. He also knows he’s dealing with a small sample size.
“I look around the league and see some good hitters still sitting around in their not-so-comfortable area, either,’’ Steverson said. “You can’t jump to a conclusion [and say] ‘Oh my god he’s having a bad year.’ You know what, if you say he has 500-550 at-bats left, that’s a long time. You tell me this after at-bat 400 and we have issues, not 75 or 80. So there’s still time for that.’’
“We have talent,’’ said Gordon Beckham, who is hitting .350 in a reserve role. “It’s a matter of time. You have to have some guys step up, step up at the right time and get us going in the right direction.
“There are a lot of confident people in there and I don’t see any panic here, I really don’t.’’
Nobody in the clubhouse seems to believe the bad start falls on the coaching staff, including Jeff Samardzija.
“No. That’s not part of the question whatsoever,’’ Samardzija said. “The staff is doing an amazing job in preparation and when that first pitch is thrown it’s up to the 25 guys in the dugout to win the game. Staffs prepare you and can help get your mind ready to play the game but it’s up to the players to do a job. There are places we need to improve and we will, we understand that.’’
NOTE: Center fielder Adam Eaton was unavailable a second straight day with fever and a virus. J.B. Shuck started again in his place and had two singles, including one for an RBI. He also made a nice running catch in the gap.
Here’s manager Robin Ventura on Carlos Rodon’s relief appearance: