Manager Pedro Grifol, on White Sox’ slump: ‘I didn’t anticipate it being like this’

As bad as things are, the first-year skipper insists the season’s not over.

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White Sox manager Pedro Grifol argues with umpire Mike Estabrook at a game in Pittsburgh on April 8.

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol argues with umpire Mike Estabrook at a game in Pittsburgh on April 8.

Joe Sargent/Getty Images

TORONTO — These are tough times for all involved with the White Sox, from the front office to the players.

Then there’s Pedro Grifol, who won general manager Rick Hahn over during the hiring process last fall to become their new manager.

Grifol, a 52-year-old baseball lifer, realized his lifelong dream and was named the Sox’ 42nd field boss Nov. 3. The icing on the cake, Grifol said in spring training, was that he was handed the reins to lead a talented team expected to contend for the postseason.

Twenty-five games in, however, Grifol’s Sox are facing a steep climb back to the .500 mark, where they finished an extraordinarily disappointing 2022 season under Tony La Russa. The Sox are 7-18 and riding a seven-game losing streak after their 8-0 loss Wednesday to the Blue Jays.

‘‘Yeah, I really didn’t anticipate it being this way,’’ Grifol said in the visitors’ dugout before the game. ‘‘But you don’t control the cards you’re dealt; you control how you respond to it. And that’s the only thing we can control.’’

The losses can beat you up, and Grifol’s tone has been less feisty and defiant during his pregame and postgame sessions with the media. But he’s trying to deliver an upbeat message and remains confident the Sox will turn things around.

He has to be.

‘‘I’ve been on teams where you go through a streak like this and you know the season is over,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘This doesn’t feel that way. It doesn’t feel that way at all.’’

The Sox rank 28th in the majors in run differential at minus-48. They scored a combined two runs in three games in Toronto and aren’t pitching well, either.

Perhaps because they trail the first-place Twins by only seven games in the American League Central, it doesn’t feel like the season is lost, Grifol said.

‘‘I don’t know why,’’ he said. ‘‘This is a good team. There’s talent here. There’s care here. There’s work here. We just have to be professionals and grind this thing through.’’

Grifol said adversity is educational and how the Sox deal with it matters.

‘‘We’re not going to panic through this thing,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ll reflect and work and make adjustments and be hard on myself, but I’m definitely not going to panic.’’

Grifol said he’s not and won’t be a big clubhouse speech-maker, although there are times it will be called for. He has a clubhouse full of veterans, such as Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman, Tim Anderson, Elvis Andrus and Andrew Benintendi, all of whom have faced adversity.

‘‘You can’t get to a point where you just give up with your work,’’ Graveman said. ‘‘That’s the most important thing. Because in this game, [when] you lose this many in a row, you show up to the field and you just feel lethargic. But you have to be mentally strong enough to show up each day and get better as an individual. That’s the major part of any streak like this.

‘‘There are a lot of guys in here with a ton of service time and are getting paid a lot of money. With that comes some wisdom and knowledge. I don’t think anyone in this locker room has given up on the season.’’

Grifol is too new on the job to be in jeopardy of losing it. He also has a three-year contract. But the Sox’ worst start in 37 years begs for changes of some sort. Grifol certainly will meet with Hahn before the series against the Rays, but there’s not much he can change personnel-wise besides shuffling lineups.

‘‘As far as personnel changes, I’ll wait until we get back,’’ Grifol said after the loss Wednesday. ‘‘But we believe in these guys. We’ve got to continue to work, and we’ve got to clean things up.’’

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