A little levity can help struggling White Sox
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It was only a few minutes and a couple of tunes. But when manager Rick Renteria compelled injured pitcher and talented vocalist Miguel Gonzalez to sing with a rehearsing mariachi band before the game Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field, the moment might have had some actual value.
“It’s a long season,” Renteria said. “There has to be some levity in it.”
Whether it’s Gonzalez singing or Yolmer Sanchez drenching himself with a Gatorade bucket after Trayce Thompson’s walk-off home run Thursday, funny and positive moments will be embraced by a struggling White Sox team. At 9-23 and in last place in the worst division in baseball, the 2018 season already has been a trying one for many reasons.
So some fun and heartening moments could go a long way for a team that still has almost five months to go.
“It loosens guys up,” Gonzalez said. “We have a lot of young guys and a lot of young talent, but they enjoy the older guys going out and doing stuff like that.”
Of course, those young guys are the priority this season. Whether it’s the next positive outing from Lucas Giolito or Reynaldo Lopez or the latest impressive effort by Yoan Moncada or Tim Anderson, any and all growth will be embraced.
On Saturday, Anderson hit two home runs, albeit in an 8-4 loss to the Twins. But those homers were seen as more growth for Anderson, who’s showing signs of improvement after a difficult 2017 season.
“You’re not going to expect to see him hit two homers every night,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘[Saturday]was one of those days where he got a couple of pitches he could handle. Certainly having the approaches that he’s having, the swings he puts on the baseball allow him to be able to do many things, whether it’s drive the ball in the gap, hit the ball to right-center field earlier in the ballgame. He’s got the type of ability to manage the barrel.”
Before Saturday, Anderson had one hit in his last 18 at-bats but recovered for three hits and two homers.
“It’s baseball,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘You’ve got to learn from it. I learned a lot from it last year. It’s just a game. I just go out and have fun, and if it’s not going well, I’ve just got to continue to go.”
That attitude is going to be one of the keys for the Sox to get anything out of this season at the major-league level while they wait for Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez and the other prospects to develop. They don’t want the losses and lack of success to burden them and turn coming to the park into a grind.
The occasional bit of laughter or fun won’t hurt.
“You can’t dwell on a lot of different things because you have to be ready and prepared for the moment that’s coming,” Renteria said. “I think you have to use every experience that occurs in the past to learn, and I think that as these guys continue to get more and more comfortable, the expectation or the hope is that they’ll be able to take advantage of those situations.
“Having some levity alongside of it makes it a little easier.”
Gonzalez provided plenty of that with his singing. He also has an eye on the bigger picture.
“It’s fun to be around all these guys,” Gonzalez said. “At the end of the day, we have to perform no matter what when it’s time to go out and play.”