Much of the talk about the White Sox this season has centered on the future, but for the players on the roster, the rebuild isn’t the focal point. Before the Sox’ 6-1 victory Sunday against the Brewers, manager Rick Renteria reiterated that “it is about winning” for the 2018 group.
“I think we talk about it as often as we can as a reminder,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘Nobody’s here just to show up and get on the field with the idea that you’re going to fail and not go out there and try to do things to help your club win. [James Shields] did everything he could [Saturday] to keep us there and give us an opportunity to win that ballgame. He’s been doing it now for quite a while. He’s a guy that’s been around. It’s very natural probably to have frustrations. He should. That’s just the way it goes.”
That Shields — or anyone on the Sox, for that matter — is frustrated shouldn’t come as a surprise. The season has been a trying one, and the positives have been outnumbered by negative moments. The Sox are in last place in the American League Central and only ahead of the Orioles in the AL.
“This might be one of our toughest moments right now because we are truly going through a transition,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘I don’t talk about it that way. You’re trying to win ballgames on a daily basis.
‘‘That’s our focus still, but there are transitions occurring, and we’ve got to make the best of them.”
The Sox did make the best of things in the series finale against the Brewers, who have the best record in the National League. The Sox continued their mastery of Milwaukee, winning their 14th in the last 18 games and sixth consecutive series against the Brewers.
Daniel Palka, whose two-run home run in the sixth inning off Matt Albers gave the Sox a 3-1 lead, agreed with Shields, who said he didn’t care about the rebuild, just about winning after the Sox’ 5-0 loss Saturday.
“He’s exactly right; all we want to do is win,” Palka said.
“It’s not fun to lose. That’s the only thing on people’s minds: wanting to win.”
Palka’s blast was his sixth and the team’s first pinch homer of the year. Not considered a prominent part of the Sox’ future when he was claimed off waivers in November and called up in April, Palka has been making the most of his chance.
“That was the plan from the beginning, to take advantage of every opportunity I got,” Palka said. “I’ve been getting a lot of opportunities, so I’m just going to stick with that.”
Adam Engel followed Palka’s homer with one of his own, giving the Sox back-to-back homers for the third time this season. Alfredo Gonzalez’s run-scoring single had tied the game at 1 in the fifth inning and was the catcher’s first big-league hit and RBI.
“It was a very exciting moment for me,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been working hard for this and to have that opportunity. To get my first hit and my first RBI was very special.”
Taking a series from the Brewers might not be that special, but it did mean a little something to a Sox team straining for highlights.
“It’s good,’’ Palka said. ‘‘We came into this month wanting to kind of start over and refresh ourselves. It’s a good start, going 2-1 against a first-place team.”