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Konerko’s gone, but leadership hasn’t left White Sox clubhouse

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The captain is gone, but don’t fear. The 2015 White Sox won’t wander aimlessly through this season without someone to look up to. There are more than enough leaders to fill the void.

No one White Sox will assume Paul Konerko’s role as the leader in the clubhouse, but that shouldn’t pose a problem, even though most leader candidates on the Sox fall a little short in one way or another of being an ideal, “he’s the guy” choice to take over.

Adam LaRoche and Jeff Samardzija are too new, Jose Abreu doesn’t speak English, Adam Eaton is too young and Gordon Beckham probably isn’t a starter any more. But that won’t be a problem. In fact, “it’s a good thing here,’’ Samardzija said.

“It’s everybody’s clubhouse. It’s not like we have one dude walking around setting all the rules. It’s a great thing. Everyone knows what they need to do to win. That’s how everyone goes about their business.’’

So the Sox will have, for lack of a better term, leadership by committee. The good thing is there is plenty of it to go around. And it’s a group that suits a manager like Robin Ventura, who doesn’t turn tables over or rip players in the media but gets the most out of players because they respect him.

We can police ourselves,’’ Eaton said. “If it’s day 150 and we’re two games out he won’t need to come in and give a pep talk. Because we’ll be freaking champin’ at the bit, making a push. You can see Samardzija coming in here and saying “let’s frickin’ go! Let’s frickin’ win this game! Or LaRoche, not saying a word the whole year but when something needs to be said you listen. You see that in this clubhouse. That excites me, a winning mentality.’’

Samardzija, acquired in the offseason from the A’s, looks around and sees “a lot of veteran, professional guys who know what they’re doing.’’

Flowers, a leader just by having an important link to the pitching staff, said it’s “weird” not having Konerko around, but it’s not like there’s a void in the clubhouse, either.

“At this point I would say no,’’ Flowers said. “I communicated with him a lot on all sorts of aspects of baseball land life so it’s different for a couple guys who were close to him. But as far as the on field stuff, I can’t say I see much of a difference. You have LaRoche out there working with Jose at first base, and with the second basemen. There are leaders on the field, communicating and making sure everyone is on the same page.’’

Samardzija said leadership will be evident when the team goes through a rough week.

“You’ll need a starter to come out and pitch, or you need one guy to come out and get three or four hits,’’ he said. “There are a lot of definitions of being a leader but this team, it’s great because we have so many veteran guys who know their routine and know what they do every day.’’

What they do every day, starting now during spring training, and how they do it, matters a lot, Flowers said.

“You go about your business and the majority of people will follow by example, doing things the right way,’’ Flowers said. “You don’t have to be a vocal, rah-rah guy. A number of guys have taken that role whether they know it or not just by the way we’re going about work every day, demanding perfection in the drills we’re doing. That’s leadership in itself, setting an example of how we get things done.’’

With leadership like that, manager Ventura shouldn’t have to scream and yell.

“Robin played long enough to understand and know if it doesn’t get handled within the clubhouse, that’s when the problems happen,’’ Samardzija said. “That’s the great thing with this team, Robin doesn’t need to be the sheriff. He can let us handle everything from within. But he has great feel, so he knows when he needs to get involved and when he doesn’t.’’

NOTES: The White Sox had the day off Thursday, but not John Danks. The lefthander had a four-inning, 60-pitch workout to stay on his normal throwing schedule. Lefty Chris Sale, who has been sidelined with an avulsion fracture and ankle sprain in his right foot, played catch and stretched his arm as part of his throwing program. Sale is schedule to throw again Friday.

*The Sox host the Cubs at Camelback Ranch at 3:05 CST Friday. CSN and 670-AM will carry the game live.

 

 

dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

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