On the first day of spring training, Robin Ventura said he expected the White Sox to make the playoffs, a reasonable proclamation considering the offseason improvements made by the front office.
It’s also reasonable to assume more will be expected of Ventura, who is beginning his fourth season as Sox manager, as well. He knows it will come with the territory after general manager Rick Hahn gave him more to work with.
“You evaluate it differently than the last couple years, just because perhaps he has more weapons at his disposal,’’ Hahn said before the Sox played the Twins in their home opener Friday. “So it’s more fair to say ‘is he doing this or doing that.’ ’’
It was different, Hahn said, when Ventura didn’t have much of a bullpen to work with during a rebuilding 2014 season. This year he has a proven closer in David Robertson.
“When you have better personnel and more expectations, then it’s only fair for all of us in the organization to be judged by different standards,’’ Hahn said.
While far from pleased with it, Hahn downplayed the 0-3 start against the Kansas City Royals.
“The fact of the matter is there is likely going to be a spot at some point this season where we are going to lose three in a row,’’ Hahn said. “Unfortunately it came the first three of the season which lends to overreaction. It lends to people extrapolating out trends or themes which frankly are very likely not there.
“I know you have to go back to 2014 to find the last playoff team who started off 0-3 [Los Angeles Angels]. Our plan is to turn the page and start a winning streak of our own today.
“Despite what I’ve read in some venues, we are not yet out of it.’’
The Sox didn’t play a clean series in Kansas City, which doesn’t reflect well on the coaching staff whether it’s deserved or not. Hitting and pitching were issues in and of themselves, but little things like an infielder screening a teammate on a ground ball, an outfielder overthrowing cutoff and double steals being executed against them are often perceived as coaching issues whether they’re on the manager and coaches or not.
Ventura and his staff addressed the team at the end of spring training after a lackluster final week of play in Arizona. The players are ultimately responsible, but like Hahn said Friday, no one is immune to the scrutiny of the front office.
“Everyone, everyone,’’ Hahn said. “Those are priorities. We’re evaluating the players on those same measures as well, stuff we say as an organization are important and we make efforts to try to get better in, you want to see improvement in.’’
NOTES: Chris Sale makes his first start Sunday and is good to go for 90-95 pitches, Ventura said. Sale has pitched only in minor league games this spring because of a foot injury.
*Ventura and the players were happy to be home – finally.
“It feels like we’ve been on the road a long time,’’ Ventura said. “We go from Arizona to Charlotte and you have quite a few off days in Kansas City. It’s nice to get home. For guys who’ve been here, it feels like home.’’
*The refurbished clubhouse went over well with players and staff.
“It’s a nice little update for our guys,’’ Ventura said.