Careful what you wish for? White Sox off to sloppy start in Cactus League play

“Fundamentals are important, details are important,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “It’s like I said from Day 1. I want to see some mistakes.”

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White Sox manager Pedro Grifol talks with general manager Rick Hahn (right) at spring training.

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol talks with general manager Rick Hahn (right) at spring training.

John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

TEMPE, Ariz. — Another pop fly dropped in front of the pitcher’s mound Sunday, the second in two Cactus League games under new White Sox manager Pedro Grifol’s watch.

Grifol said he wanted to see mistakes, and he’s getting them.

Jake Burger, a third baseman getting time at first base for a second straight day, was charged with an error Sunday. Third base prospect Bryan Ramos was charged with one Saturday, also because of miscommunication.

Veteran outfielder Victor Reyes hesitated between first and second and was easily caught stealing on a check swing by Seby Zavala on a ball in the dirt in a 7-0 loss to the Angels Sunday. A throw from a minor league catcher went through a minor league first baseman into the outfield.

“Obviously fundamentals are important, details are important,” Grifol said before Sunday’s game. “It’s like I said from Day 1. I want to see some mistakes.”

He won’t want to when the season begins against the World Series champion Astros March 30, but Grifol wants to get the mistakes out of the way now — so he and his staff can fix them.

Whether they’re made by players sure to be on the Opening Day roster or certain not to doesn’t matter to Grifol, who is aiming to create a culture embracing clean baseball. Fair or not, mistakes in the first two Cactus League games in February don’t reflect well on the organization in general, and on the camp Grifol and his staff are running.

It’s just not a good look.

Luckily, it’s still February.

In a 6-2 loss to the Padres Saturday, Grifol saw good things “but we also made six or seven mistakes that we wanted to go over. We weren’t sharp on our cutoffs and relays. Pop-up priority, we have to address that. PitchCom issues to address. There were some [pickoffs] we wanted to run that we didn’t. Have to address that.”

There was an overslide on the bases that was addressed. That Grifol pointed them out publicly speaks to his resolve to get things right.

Grifol has talked up the players’ energy and effort in camp and in the dugout during games. But he’s here for clean baseball, often absent during the 81-81 disappointment of a year ago. The front office added Andrew Benintendi and Mike Clevinger to the roster during a relatively quiet offseason and brought back Elvis Andrus, pinning much on Grifol, in his first year, to clean things up.

“He sees the game really well,” said Benintendi, who played under Grifol’s coaching in Kansas City. “Being a bench coach for a while over there, you get to learn a lot. Not only from the manager, but by watching. He’s always calm, cool and collected.”

Grifol and some of his staff are arriving at Camelback Ranch at 4:30 a.m., and not leaving until every detail has been covered.

“However long it takes,” Grifol said.

“We’re now executing what we spoke about all offseason. We have like three field coordinators in there, including myself, [third base coach] Eddie Rodriguez, [field coordinator] Mike Tosar. [Hitting coach] Jose Castro was a hitting coordinator and [bench coach [Charlie] Montoyo did some coordinating as well. So when you put five ex-coordinators in the same room you’re going to get details. I’m a reflection of those guys. Those guys do an unbelievable job. This is how we envision it, this is the only way we know how to do it.”

There are 32 days left till Opening Day.

“This is just the start of spring training,” rookie right fielder Oscar Colas said through a translator after Sunday’s game. “Everybody is feeling good. We still have a couple of things to adjust, but we have a very good team.”

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