The White Sox are outfielder Brian Goodwin’s fifth team in six major-league seasons, and he said it’s not even close.
“This is the best team I’ve been on,” Goodwin said.
On the field, in the dugout, in the clubhouse. Players, staff, manager, everyone.
“Unmatched vibe, unmatched relationships, family type of environment, it’s the best all the way through,” he said.
Winning will do that, and the Sox are 71-51 after taking three of four games from the Athletics, who salvaged the series finale Thursday with a 5-4 victory.
The Sox’ lead in the American League Central is so big that Goodwin can’t even give you the number.
“We never really look at the lead, the records, the lists, the rankings,” he said. “Just keep our eyes off it and keep our heads straightforward, to the next game. See them when they get here and beat them. The mentality hasn’t changed since I got here.”
The Sox continue to enjoy themselves, which is plain to see from TV shots into the dugout or watching players interact with fans. Goodwin, a 30-year-old veteran cut by the Pirates in spring training, says “pinch me.”
The environment on the South Side “makes coming to the park not seem like a job,” he said.
“These last couple of months, I don’t even know how long I’ve been here, but it’s flying by,” he said. “It’s still the same excitement I had since Day 1, and I’ve been embraced like family since I got here.”
After the Pirates let Goodwin go — an event he said motivates him every day — the Sox signed him to a minor-league contract when Luis Robert went down with a hip injury in the first week of May. Eloy Jimenez and Adam Engel also were injured, thinning the outfield dramatically. Goodwin debuted with the Sox on June 12 at Detroit.
He homered and drove in five runs that day.
Welcome to the club.
He quickly found it to be a free-spirited environment, one that flourished under manager Rick Renteria last year — it can’t help do anything but with personalities like Tim Anderson and Jimenez in the house — and carried on with 76-year-old manager Tony La Russa, who hasn’t stood in the way of it.
“He still has a lot of old-school philosophy, but he has a personality that fits in pretty much with any crowd or generation,” Goodwin said of La Russa. “Baseball takes care of itself because we’re all on the same page there, and he has a great personality off the field, so he covers all the bases, right?”
Goodwin has played all three outfield positions, batted in six spots in the lineup — including fourth 16 times — and remained on the roster after Jimenez and Robert returned, outlasting offseason signee Adam Eaton, who was designated for assignment last month.
Goodwin’s hitting line doesn’t show his knack for big moments, most recently a go-ahead homer in the 10th inning against the Cubs on Aug. 7 and his first career walk-off homer against the Indians on Aug. 1.
“He’s awesome. He shows up with great energy every day,” assistant hitting coach Howie Clark said. “He’s a huge asset. A guy that’s been around, who can help the young guys, and he’s come up big for us with a lot of big hits. He doesn’t let situations overwhelm him.”
Getting cut by the Pirates certainly didn’t faze Goodwin. To the contrary, it spurred him on.
“Never goes away, and I don’t think it ever will,” he said. “It definitely worked out for the better.”