Newcomer Steve Cishek likes optimistic vibe in White Sox’ clubhouse
“This is a little bit different because these young guys have had a taste of success, and now they’re hungry to win,” Steve Cishek said.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Most every spring-training clubhouse has an upbeat vibe. It’s one of those things, perhaps second only to the sunshine and warm weather, that makes six weeks in Arizona or Florida a delight.
Players are smiling, with tweaks in their swings, deliveries and repertoires promising better results and shots at playing meaningful games in September.
Those not given a shot promise to show you and surprise.
The mood in the White Sox’ clubhouse four weeks before Opening Day oozes optimism, perhaps more than is warranted for a team that on paper figures to finish a few games above .500. But after three rebuilding years of losing, there’s no restraining it.
For newcomer Steve Cishek, a 33-year-old right-hander entering his second decade in baseball, the buzz makes coming to work fun. He has felt spring-training optimism with the Marlins, Mariners and Cubs, but not like this.
“I think this is a little bit different because these young guys have had a taste of success, and now they’re hungry to win,” Cishek said Thursday. “And they put together some veteran pieces to kind of fit around them this year. It all starts with what the front office did — they set the tone for the organization by bringing in these acquisitions.’’
Cishek is one of those, a veteran added to bolster the bullpen.
The message from the Sox to him was, “we’re serious about this; we want to win,” he said.
“When I saw what they were doing and my agent called me [about the Sox], I said, ‘My gosh, that sounds like fun. That sounds like something I want to be a part of.’ ’’
Some don’t want to go overboard on the playoff chatter. Another new addition who has been to the playoffs, catcher Yasmani Grandal, said on the first day of spring training: “Let’s get there first. We’re Day 1 of spring training. It’s a long season, a long spring training.”
But you understand where the submarine-style Cishek is coming from.
For his part to help make it happen, he is making a few tweaks this spring, looking to use more changeups this season. In his first outing against the Giants on Tuesday, he threw three consecutive changeups to a batter for probably the first time in his career, he said.
“I’m always trying to find little adjustments to help me have a little bit more success out there,” he said.
As Cishek puts it, aim high or go home.
“If you don’t think we’re going to be doing something big, playing in the playoffs, then you shouldn’t be sitting in this locker room,” he said. “You shouldn’t be playing this game. These guys are serious about it.
“There’s definitely a buzz in here. It’s a lot of fun to see [manager Rick Renteria’s] fire. He comes in every day, he tries to get us to know each other a little bit better by calling guys up [in the clubhouse] and asking them questions. We learn about them, and then we kind of go into some serious talks about what he calls ‘winning the day.’ ’’
Sure beats losing the day. For anyone who has been around the Sox lately, it’s time for a change.