MINNEAPOLIS – There’s no getting around the fact that 45 percent of the White Sox runs have come via the home run.
“That’s just who we are,” hitting coach Jeff Manto said Saturday.
They were that even more on Saturday, with the return of Adam Dunn to the lineup. The Sox went into the game against the Minnesota Twins with 189 homers, second highest in the major leagues and on pace for 214, which would be the seventh-highest in team history. Remember the South Side Hit Men of 1977? This team will surpass the 192 homers hit by Richie Zisk and Co. in a matter of days. Or hours.
Manto said it’s not in the 2012 Sox DNA to manufacture runs. It’s not that they don’t or can’t, it’s just not their way of doing business.
“This team is not designed to manufacture,” Manto said. “We have some real good hitters. The middle of the lineup and even [No. 2 hitter Kevin] Youkilis, these guys sit on 20-25 home runs a year. So to ask them to start punching balls all over the field and take them out of their comfort zone might work in the opposite direction.
“That’s just who we are. We don’t need to manufacture. We need to win. Whatever it takes that day.”
Manager Robin Ventura has a somewhat different take. He believes scoring runs consistently every way possible translates to winning consistently, so he isn’t satisfied with living and dying by the long ball.
“You can’t win consistently that way,” Ventura said before Saturday’s game. “Our bad stretches have come when we haven’t been able to general runs other than the home run. That’s when we struggle.
“When we’re getting guys on base, and last night you get [Dayan)] Viciedo getting a ball placed in the right spot [on a groundout RBI and Alex] Rios scores. When we struggle, we don’t do that very well.”
Manto doesn’t disagree. But don’t ask him to knock the home run.
“This home run thing and generating runs by something different than the home run, I honestly believe it’s just a byproduct of a good swing. The hardest thing to do is hit a home run — everything has to be perfect. I see the home run as a byproduct of how hard these guys are working and a good approach.
“It’s not that they’re lifting and coming out of their boots to drive the ball. It’s a bit difficult to say that and see that but I honestly believe that’s what’s been happening. To get a run by something other than a home run, it’s nice. But it takes too long.”
Manto did laugh at that last sentence. But he kind of has a point. And it’s just not the Sox.