Right-hander Lance Lynn brings edge, needed leadership to White Sox’ clubhouse

“If you needed last year to have a chip on your shoulder, then you got one,” Lynn said. “But I’ve had one my whole life.”

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Lance Lynn of the White Sox reacts during a game last season in Chicago. (Getty Images)

Lance Lynn of the White Sox reacts while leaving the mound in the first inning against the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 06, 2022 in Chicago. (Getty Images)

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Where player leadership will come from in the wake of Jose Abreu’s departure is one of the questions facing the White Sox during spring training.. That was underlined when Eloy Jimenez was asked in January who would provide it and said he didn’t know.

Jimenez might have overlooked 6-5 right-hander Lance Lynn, the 35-year-old alpha dog in the clubhouse last season. Lynn is back again to anchor the top of the rotation with American League Cy Young runner-up Dylan Cease and to be a respected voice who leads by example. But he won’t go it alone.

‘‘You need more than one, and anyone can be a leader at any time,’’ Lynn said after throwing a bullpen session Friday. ‘‘That’s what we are trying to figure out. We’ve got a lot of guys capable of a lot of things, but they have to take care of their stuff individually. If they do that, then everybody can come together.’’

Because of language barriers, a leader can’t be all things to all people. But Lynn, who once said he was looked down upon during his youth in central Indiana because his family lived in a trailer park, vowed never to give anyone the same treatment, regardless of their status, position, salary or anything else. That goes a long way in a clubhouse.

‘‘You can’t force it; players see that,’’ Lynn said. ‘‘So if you practice what you preach, show up every day and play the game hard, people will naturally kind of follow. That’s the way I was taught to do it. Do things the right way and compete. If you do that, everything else will take care of itself.’’

Generally quiet off the field but vocal and demonstrative on it, Lynn’s body language can be loud and clear if teammates don’t make plays or bring the same intensity he does when he’s pitching. He got into a heat-of-the-moment verbal exchange with former third-base coach Joe McEwing in the dugout during the Sox’ frustrating 81-81 season in 2022.

‘‘If you needed last year to have a chip on your shoulder, then you got one,’’ Lynn said. ‘‘But I’ve had one my whole life.’’

Lynn is amped up about pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, which is why he came to camp before the other pitchers.

‘‘Oh, he’s ramping it up,’’ manager Pedro Grifol said. ‘‘He’s going to the WBC. He’s in pretty good shape right now. He’s almost close to where he wants to be, and once that WBC starts he’ll be ready to go.’’

Lynn pitched in the Pan Am Games in 2007 but has a deeper appreciation for wearing ‘‘USA’’ on his shirt now, he said.

‘‘I’m looking forward to having that opportunity again and really understanding what it means,’’ he said. ‘‘Being a little older, it’s going to be fun.’’

After posting a 2.69 ERA and finishing third in American League Cy Young voting in 2021, his first season with the Sox, Lynn injured a knee in spring training last season and was limited to 21 starts. He finished with a 3.99 ERA, but it was 2.43 in August and September.

With new manager Grifol in place, the inner workings of the clubhouse will begin to come together in camp.

‘‘The main thing is, how are we going to go about our business?’’ Lynn said. ‘‘How are we going to play? What’s going to be expected of us every day? How are we going to be held accountable not only in the clubhouse but from the coaching staff? We get all those things ironed out, we are going to be good.’’

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