BY TONI GINNETTI – For the Sun-Times
The White Sox face a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels starting Monday with the knowledge that they swept the division contenders in three games last week at home.
But things can be different on the West Coast.
“We just played the Angels, so we realize how good they are,’’ manager Robin Ventura said Sunday. “It’s always tough when you go out there and stay for a week. Playing those guys– — even though they haven’t been playing as well as they feel they should — you look at their lineup and you realize how good they are, so it’s going to be tough.”
The Sox’ have owned the American League West (14-4), but have losing records against the AL East (12-14), the National League (9-10) and the AL Central (20-31).
J. B. Shuck was activated from the disabled list Sunday after missing time with a strained left hamstring. And with Shuck’s return, the Sox designated Emilio Bonifacio for assignment.
The team had signed Bonifacio before the season to a one-year,
$4 million deal. The Sox could owe the utility infielder/outfielder an additional $1 million buyout.
“You always make tough decisions,’’ Ventura said. “With kind of the emergence of Trayce [Thompson], you are getting Shuck back, and you can have him as a pinch hitter playing the outfield. You’ve got to be able to keep some guys who can play the infield and move around.
“It didn’t really pan out the way we really saw it happening with [Bonifacio]. It’s always tough. He’s a great guy in the clubhouse.’’
Bonifacio played in 47 games (15 starts) and hit .167 with four RBI and five runs scored.
Shuck is hitting .278 with 11 RBI and four stolen bases in 54 games.
Retooling, not rebuilding
The Sox aren’t having the same youth movement as the Cubs, but new talent is moving into the lineup.
“Player development is one thing,” Ventura said. “We are bringing these guys up here to play, and they deserve to play. With the way Trayce is playing (hitting safely in four of five games), I don’t know if we look at it as player development. You let them go play. You also see what Sal [Tyler Saladino] is doing defensively that has really helped us, and the same thing with Carlos Sanchez. You hope that offense comes along and does well.
“I think player development is more about when a guy is hitting .180 and you’re trying to get him over the hump.’’
The Crosstown Showdown ended in a 3-3 tie, but Chris Sale still finds the rivalry worthwhile.
“I think it’s always fun. It’s the best atmosphere to pitch in,’’ said Sale, who is a perfect 6-0 in career interleague starts, including 2-0 against the Cubs. “It’s a crosstown rival, the same city. I think it’s good no matter where or when it is.’’
The rivalry also gave the Sox their first back-to-back sellout crowds since July 2012.
Follow me on Twitter @toniginnetti.